Benedict left his comfortable life in the city at a young age to pursue his relationship with God in the wilderness. Three years of solitude profoundly changed him, his understanding of humanity and of himself and of God.
Gradually others came to join him in the wilderness and as the community grew he found it necessary to develop a rule of monastic life, full of spiritual and practical wisdom for christian communities which profoundly shaped not only the spiritual life of western europe but also its politics. In an age when government was by force in these communities the Abbot was chosen by the monks and ruled the community in accordance with the written rule and in consultation with the monks.
As a contemporary introduction to the rule of Benedict I would highly recommend the book Finding Sanctuary (£4.50 from Amazon). One of the aspects which I found particularly helpful was Benedicts 12 steps of humility.