Before Columbanus, Irish abbots demonstrated little interest in producing monastic rules as we know them from the traditions of Benedict of Nursia and Caesarius of Arles. Preferring instruction by example to any documented tenets, Irish monasticism emphasized the conduct of the founding or ruling abbot or abbess as a model to imitate.
The reign of Alfonso VI was also to be the setting within which León-Castilla joined in the emergence of a new western Europe and itself also assimilated the new norms and structures that were being erected everywhere there.
This synopsis of the type of person who became a Benedictine monk reflects the welcoming attitude that St Benedict hoped to give to the rule for monastic living that now bears his name. It also reflects the variety of people who came into a life of monasticism in England during the Anglo-Saxon period of 597-1066. These people were drawn to the simple spiritual life formed by St Benedict of Nursia.
This is a question which has dogged the history of the interaction between Rome and the Black monks, and it brings a second question in its wake – what were the medieval Popes trying to do with monasticism?