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.
The Benedictines at the old Abbey of Vintown grew some of the finest grapes in Christendom.