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date: 20 February 2020

Benedictine monkslocked

  • James W. McKinnon


James W. McKinnon

The ‘Black Monks’, known since the 14th century as the Order of St Benedict (OSB). The order consists of a large number of monastic communities and federations which follow the Rule of St Benedict (see Benedict of Nursia), but it is to be distinguished from monastic bodies such as the Cistercians which, while retaining the Rule, broke away from the mainstream of Benedictinism to form autonomous orders.

When Benedict composed his Rule (c530) for the monastery of Monte Cassino, he could hardly have foreseen that it would become the universal norm for Western monasticism; or indeed that Benedictine monasticism was to play so central a role in the development of European civilization that historians today refer to the period between the 8th and the 12th centuries as the ‘Benedictine centuries’.

The first of these historical triumphs was substantially complete by the time of Charlemagne (...

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F.Ll. Harrison: Music in Medieval Britain (London, 1958, 4/1980)