In the AD 500s, an Italian named Benedict of Nursia drew up a set of rules for monks (or people in monasteries). All monks must be poor, unmarried and obedient. Monks wore simple robes, shaved their heads, and shard all their daily tasks.

Monasteries were for men only. Religious women joined orders of their own and became nuns. Each monastery was led by an abbot, some of whom had as much power asy nobleman, controlling farms, trades and even private armies.

Monks grew their own food, reared farm animals, baked bread and brews beer. They made their own clothes and furniture, and built their own churches. They also looked after the sick. Part of their time was spent teaching young boys, who would in time become monks themselves.