The Carthusians were radically different to the Cistercians and Benedictines, and did not follow the Regula Benedicti. The order was founded in 1084 by Bruno of Cologne (c.1030-1101), a priest who rejected the chance to become an Archbishop due to the corruption of the church, and decided to live in the style of the Desert Fathers. With six companions, Bruno settled in the Grande Chartreuse, an appropriately desolate and rocky place near Grenoble. They lived in individual huts around a communal area for eating and attending mass. They left their cells bare, wore itchy hair shirts, and lived in silence.
This style of living attracted many others, and soon the growing order had to write The Statutes, a set of rules for Carthusian living ratified by the Pope in 1133. The focus of Carthusian life was contemplation, and so a rule of silence and solitude was enforced. Carthusian monasteries, or Charterhouses, were built as individual cells around a cloister, with a few essential communal buildings, in imitation of Grande Chartreuse. To support this way of life, the choir monks were supported by lay brothers. The lay brothers had greater responsibility for manual labour, and spent less time in contemplation.
As there were no abbots in the Carthusian Order, there were no abbeys. Uniformity of observance was a vital tenet, and an annual Chapter Meeting of priors ensured the Statutes were being obeyed across all Charterhouses. The Carthusians had no pastoral duties, and lived exclusively in their Charterhouse, with no contact with the outside world. There were also Carthusian nuns from 1145 onwards, who lived in much the same manner but with a greater emphasis on community. The Carthusians lived a life in a practical imitation of the Desert Fathers, and choir monks were also commonly referred to as hermits.