Term of contempt for heretical Franciscans; these can be divided into two branches.
Fraticelli de Paupere Vita. These were the successors of the Franciscan spirituals and were directed by angelus clarenus, who returned to Italy in 1318 and died in 1337. The clareni had hermitages in Rome, in central Italy, and in Naples, where Angelus's friend Philip of Majorca, brother of Queen Sancia of Naples, arrived in 1329, and was joined by the surviving Spirituals from Provence and Sicily. Philip preached against Pope john xxii, and a bull of 1340 describes him as "the promotor and ruler of a heretical sect." In 1362 a process was directed against Louis of Durazzo, the cousin of Joanna I, because he had protected the Fraticelli. On that occasion they were said to be divided into three groups, one of which was called the "followers of brother Philip of Majorca." The courts of Aragon and Sicily also protected them. Writing in Latin and Italian, the pamphleteers, defending the Fraticelli's separation from the Franciscan Order, show considerable familiarity with the works of the Fathers, with the early Franciscan writings, including those of the Spirituals, and with the manifestos against John XXII, whom, with his successors and adherents, they regarded as heretical because of John's condemnation of the Franciscan doctrine of the poverty of Christ (see poverty controversy). Their Joachimism (see joachim of fiore) makes it likely that some of the later Joachimite treatises emanated from their circle, and there may be some connection between them and the hermits with whom cola di rienzo lived after his first exile from Rome. Part of the sect subsequently became orthodox. In 1473 various groups of Clareni hermits, distinguished by their short, skimpy habits, were united to the Franciscan Observants but enjoyed considerable autonomy until 1563, when the two bodies were finally amalgamated. At that time the Clareni had 21 hermitages.
The Fraticelli de Opinione. The followers of michael of cesena were given this designation. Their resistance to John XXII received considerable support among the Franciscans and, outside the order, even as far away as Persia. In 1331 the two Franciscan chaplains of Sancia of Naples were accused of corresponding with the former minister general and of maintaining that John XXII was no longer pope. One of them, Andrea de Gagliano, was later tried by the Inquisition but was absolved. In the late 14th and 15th centuries the sect was confined mainly to Italy and gained adherents during the western schism. Their propaganda provoked answers from orthodox circles; from the Tuscan hermit John de Cellis, a correspondent of St. catherine of siena; and from St. james of the marches, the companion of St. bernardine of siena, who with St. john capistran acted as an inquisitor against them. The Fraticelli were organized as a church with their own minister general, bishops, priests, and women preachers. Many members of the sect became victims of the inquisition; a certain Fra Michael da Calci was burned at Florence (1389), and others at Rome (1467). Certain groups escaped to Greece in the mid-15th century, but little trace of the sect has been found elsewhere; nor has it been possible to establish connections between them and the hussites and other heretics.
Bibliography: f. ehrle, "Die Spiritualen: Ihr Verältnis zum Franziskanerorden und zu den Franticellen," Archiv für Literaturund Kirchengeschichte des Mittelalters, 1 (Freiburg 1885–1900) 509–569. f. tocco, Studii francescani (Naples 1909). d. douie, The Nature and the Effect of the Heresy of the Fraticelli (New York 1978).
[d. l. douie]