Hugh was sometimes called Hugh the Great or Hugh of Semur, and was the Abbot of Cluny from 1049 until his death. He was one of the most influential leaders of the monastic orders from the Middle Ages. Hugh came from the noblest families in Burgundy. He was the oldest son of Seigneur Dalmas I of Semur and Aremberge of Vergy, daughter of Henry I, Duke of Burgundy born May 13, 1024. His father wanted him to be a knight. But when he was fifteen, he took monastic vows and later became an abbot.
Abbot Hugh built the third abbey church at Cluny. It was the largest building in Europe for many centuries. It was funded by Ferdinand I of León. Hugh was the driving force behind the Cluniac monastic movement during the last quarter of the 11th century, which had priories throughout southern France and northern Spain.
Pope Urban II made Hugh one of the most powerful and influential figures of the late 11th century. He was also the godfather of the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV. He tried to mediate conflict between Pope Gregory VII and Henry IV, but he was not successful. He was also diplomat to Germany and Hungary for the church. He died on April 28, 1109. Many of his relics were pillaged or destroyed by the Huguenots in 1575.
His feast day is April 29.