1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.



Definition: Monks who lived in monasteries that followed the Rule written by Saint Benedict of Nursia were known as Benedictines. There were also Benedictine nuns, whose patroness was considered to be Benedict's sister Scholastica. Benedictines combined prayer and spiritual contemplation, manual labor, and scholarly study in their daily lives.

Benedictine monasteries were the foremost centers of education in early Europe, serving as repositories of literature and preserving classical learning through the Middle Ages. Although some attempts were made to unite all Benedictines under one administrative authority, Benedictine monasteries usually remained autonomous.

The most notable Benedictine monastery was the Abbey at Cluny, which was founded in 910. A successful reform house, it grew wealthy on donations and inspired numerous imitators, many of whom worked under the jurisdiction of Cluny. The influence of Cluny and similar powerful Benedictine houses reached its height in the mid-12th century, after which it entered a long decline. Benedictines suffered severe persecution during the Reformation, disappearing almost entirely in Northern Europe and only truly recovering in the 19th century.

Benedictines were sometimes called "Black Monks" for the black habits they wore.

Also Known As: Black Monks
Cluny wasn't the only Benedictine monastery in France, but it was certainly the most powerful and influential.
The Benedictines at the old Abbey of Vintown grew some of the finest grapes in Christendom.
Related Video
Black Sesame Ice Cream
Black Currant and Balsamic Gastrique
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Medieval History
  4. Quick Reference
  5. Medieval History Glossary
  6. Medieval History Glossary Terms Beginning with B
  7. Benedictines - Black Monks

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.