A reforming order of Benedictine monasticism originating in the late 10th century at Cluny Abbey in Burgundy, France. Emphasizing strict observance of the Rule of St. Benedict in a time of widespread monastic laxity, the Cluniac order gained wide influence and founded over 2,000 daughter monasteries.

Quick Facts

Go Historic ID
Cluniac order
cluniacenzer Dutch
Cluniacense Spanish

More Definitions

A Christian monastic order that resulted from 10th- and 11th-century reforms within the Benedictine order. The order is named after the town of Cluny in Burgundy, site of the celebrated abbey of the same name that was founded in 910 by Duke William the Pious of Aquitaine. The new order returned to strictly observing the rule of St. Benedict during a time of general monastic laxity. The Cluniac reforms were imitated by other monasteries and a succession of abbots gradually built up an impressive network of monasteries throughout western Europe that followed the strict Cluniac customs. The Cluniac order, free of feudal control itself, sought to eliminate feudal warfare; it supported the Truce of God and the Peace of God, which respectively restrict fighting and range of conduct. Cluniacs are also credited with integrating monks and society. The most important Cluniac abbots were St. Odon of Cluny (879-942) and St. Hugh of Cluny (Hugues de Semur; 1049-1109). St. Odo gained for Cluniac houses (called priories) exemption from all but papal authority, a centralization previously unknown in the Benedictine order. Under St. Hugh medieval monasticism reached its apogee and Cluny gained fame as a spiritual center of Western Christianity. While Hugh was abbot almost 2,000 more monasteries were founded in Italy, England, and Spain and in 1055 he founded the first Cluniac convent.

view all →


  1. 1.  The Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, 300148110. The J. Paul Getty Trust.