|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (August 2014)|
The name has many spellings, which include Frangipane, Frangiapane, Freiapane, Fricapane and Fresapane.
The family played a significant part in the struggle between Pope Gregory VII and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, and briefly governed Rome from 1107–1108. In the feud between the Orsini and Colonna families they supported the Orsini. Their power was at its greatest when they achieved the election of Pope Honorius II in 1124. In his Trattatello in laude di Dante, Boccaccio traces the descent of Dante from the family.
The Frangipani were a powerful baronial family occupying a prominent position in Rome from the 11th to the 13th century. Manouevring cleverly between the Empire and the Papacy, they were instrumental in the appointment of at least two popes: Honorius II and Innocent II.
The first Frangipane, who gave the family its name, was believed to be Pietro, a rich merchant who claimed descent from the Ancient Roman family of the Anicii, who during a flood of the Tiber distributed bread to the needy by boat through the flooded streets of the city, from which he acquired the nickname "frangi pane" ("break bread"). The family is first recorded in 1014 in an official document, when a certain Leone Frangipane signed a plea relating to Farfa Abbey in Sabina. The family settled in Rome near the Circus Maximus, in the Settizonio, an ancient palace erected in the time of Septimius Severus, adding to it a tower which still stands today. This building was the location of the first conclave of the Papal election of 1241.
The "Croniche Subiacensi" (chronicles of Subiaco Abbey) show that the Frangipani intermarried with the Counts of Tusculum and extended their estates to Terracina, Ninfa (Cisterna di Latina), Marino and Nettuno.
Their historical rivals were the Pierleoni. In the struggle between the two families the Frangipani supported the election of the Antipope Benedict X. In 1258 Giovanni Frangipane, lord of Astura, betrayed Conradin, Duke of Swabia, who had requested his hospitality while fleeing from the Battle of Tagliacozzo, and sent him to Charles I of Anjou.
- Saint Ottone Frangipane is also believed have been a member of this family.