European monks made many contributions to European society. When the Roman empire fell, things fell into a state of disorder. The monks, however, preserved much of the agricultural knowledge that was in danger of being lost due to the turmoil of that period. Monks taught people how to care for livestock, bee-keeping, and many other important skills. Monks also made many advances in technology.
Some monks known as the Cisterian monks used their monasteries as factories. They used water power and other methods to accomplish various tasks, such as crushing wheat, sieving flour, fulling cloth, and tanning. In the 12th century, there were as many as 742 Cisterian monasteries. Other monks worked in metallurgy and in copying manuscripts. They also copied many Christian writings and scriptures, as well as Greek and Latin literature.
Monks also played a big role in education. St. John Chrysostom recorded that people would send their children to be educated by the monks of Antioch. St. Benedict taught the sons of Roman nobles. In Germany, St. Boniface established a school in every monastery he founded. St. Augustine and his monks also established schools wherever they went.
Many people may think that the early Christian writers rejected classical literature. But, contrary to what you might think, the standard view among the early Christians was quite different. The early Christians thought that the ancient Greeks and Romans expressed many beautiful and noble things in their writings. They saw it as flawed, but acknowledged that there were many good things they could get from the classics. In fact, they viewed Christianity as the fulfilment of the ideas of the Greek and Roman philosophers.