A noble Roman family influential in affairs of the papacy and the Empire from the early 11th to the end of the 13th century. The name first appears in 1014, when a Leo de Imperio or de Imperatore qui vocatur Frangapane signed a placitum relative to the abbey of Farfa. De imperatore shows adherence to the imperial cause, and it has been suggested that the qui vocatur indicates the then recent origin of the family name. Another witness to the 1014 agreement was a Petrus de Imperato, head of the city militia; the name appears in Roman records from 960 on. De imperatore without "Frangipane" is found frequently until 1042, then disappears. The family name has various forms: Fragapane and Frajapane (1014), Fricapanem (1094), Fraiapanem (1116); and in the 12th century Friapane and Fraiapanis vary with Fragenspanem or Frangenspanem.
The legend connecting the origin of the family with the old Roman Anicii and the name with an 8th-century member, Flavius, who provided bread (frangebat panem ) for the people during a famine, is without foundation.
In Rome the Frangipani possessed the large holdings extending along the Palatine, the Forum, Via sacra, Coliseum, and the Circus Maximus, and centered in the fortified tower near the Arch of Titus. This tower, the Turris cartularia temporarily housed a portion of the papal archives. In the beginning of the 12th century the family was divided into three branches: de Cartularia, de Septizonio, and de Gradellis, and acquired many lands in Campagna, Marittima, and Terracina. They held Ninfa in fief from the pope until 1213, and dominated Marino, Torri, Astura, and Cisterna until these yielded to gaetani influence in the 13th century; Nemi was acquired by the Frangipani in the 16th century.
Increasingly prominent during the gregorian reform, the Frangipani vacillated as circumstances demanded between supporting the papacy and the Empire, always opposing the other baronial families, first the pierleoni, then the Annibaldi and the Gaetani. In 1061 Cencio Frangipani supported Hildebrand in obtaining the election of alexander ii, and in 1084 he aided Robert Guiscard's entry into Rome to liberate gregory vii. Under Cencio's son Giovanni, urban ii received hospitality and refuge in 1093 at the Turris cartularia, and in 1108 paschal ii entrusted the government of Benevento to Leone Frangipani.
When Emperor henry v went into Italy, the Frangipani shifted to the imperial side. Cencio II, a follower of Henry V, took gelasius ii prisoner in 1118. This opposition to the papacy continued under callistus ii, who destroyed the Frangipani towers to obtain their submission. The Frangipani reached the height of their power when their candidate, honorius ii, was elected in 1124. They continued more or less loyal to the papacy during the 12th century, but in the following century they took part in the uprisings against the papacy and aided frederick ii against gregory ix and innocent iv. They sold their strongholds in Rome to the Emperor and received them back from him in fief; with his help they rebuilt the destroyed Turris cartularia. Toward the end of Frederick II's reign the Frangipani shifted again to the papal side, and because of this defection Frederick took back their fiefs to Taranto and Otranto.
Frangipani influence in Rome declined at the close of the 13th century. The Neapolitan branch continued into the 17th century. Families elsewhere claimed descent from the Frangipani of Rome and assumed the name. The Frangipani of Croatia, who held Modrus, Tersato, and the island of Veglia, claimed descent from the Roman house, but on the basis of false documents. The Frangipani of Friuli, who also claimed a Roman origin, held Tarcento and Castel Porpeto; this family is still extant. It is uncertain whether antipope Innocent III (Lando of Sezze) 1179, and Leo de Monumento, supporter of Henry VI, belonged to the Frangipani family.
The following are prominent members of the Roman branch of the Frangipani family: Aldruda, Countess of Bertinoro, who in 1174, with Guglielmo Marchesella of Ferrara, led the troops who freed Ancona from the siege of the Germans. Jacoba, wife of Graziano Frangipani of Settisoli, friend and follower of St. Francis of Assisi (buried near his tomb in the Assisi basilica). Guglielmo, d. 1337, archbishop of Patras (1317), who excommunicated the Catalonian Company in 1331. Muzio, husband of Julia Strozzi and leader of the papal auxiliaries to France in 1569. Silvester (Ignatius Ciantes ), Dominican; b. 1594; d. 1667; provincial of the order in Sicily, then in Apulia, Calabria, and later England; author of several ecclesiastical works. Pietro Francesco Orsini (benedict xiii), Dominican; b. 1649; d. 1730; son of Giovanna Frangipani of Tolpha.
A number of the members of the Neapolitan branch are noteworthy: Giovanni, Count of Astura, famous for the capture of Conradin of Swabia in 1268. Fabio Mirto, d. March 17, 1587; governor of the Marches and of Perugia, 1559; bishop of Cajazzo, 1537, of Barletta-Nazareth, 1572; participant in the Council of Trent, 1562 to 1572, 1577 to 1587; nuncio to Paris, 1568 to 1572. Ottavio Mirto, nephew of Fabio, son of Sylvio Frangipani Mirto; b. 1542 or 1543; d. 1612; bishop of Cajazzo, 1572; governor of Bologna under Gregory XIII; bishop of Tricario, 1592; nuncio to Cologne and the Low Countries, 1587 to 1596, to Brussels, 1596 to 1606; archbishop of Taranto, 1605. Ottavio Fraja, Benedictine; b. 1783; d. 1843; librarian at Monte Cassino, collaborator of Cardinal Angelo mai, noted paleographer.
Bibliography: General. l. frangipane, Geneologia dei Frangipane signori di Castelloe Tarcento (Udine 1891). f. sabatini, La famigliae le torri dei Frangipane in Roma (Rome 1907). f. ehrle in Mélanges offerts à M. Émile Chatelain (Paris 1910) 448–85. p. fedele, "Sull'origine dei F.," Archivio della Societá romana di storia patria 33 (1910) 493–506. e. d. theseider, Enciclopedia Italiana di scienzi littere ed arti, 36 v. (Rome 1929–39) 16:23–24. g. opitz, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 4:252–54. Special. p. fedele, "Il leopardoe l'agnello di casa Frangipane," Archivio della Società romana di storia patria 28 (1905) 207–17. e. d'alenÇon, Frère Jacqueline (new ed. Paris 1927). j. quÉtif and j. Échard, Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum, 5 v. (Paris 1719–23); continued by r. coulon (Paris 1909– ); repr. 2 v. in 4 (New York 1959) 2.2:620–21. e. jallonghi, "D. Ottavio Frajo Frangipane, archivista cassinese, 1763–1843," Bulletino dell'Istituto storico ital…. e Archivio Muratoriano 47 (1932) 227–45.
[m. g. mcneil]