(Ordo Fratrum Minimorum). An order of friars who regarded themselves as the least of all the religious, below the Friars Minor. Founded initially and informally as a group of hermits in 1435 by Francis of Paola,* and confirmed by the pope in 1474, the order had no written rule until 1493. This rule was similar to that of the Franciscans. A second rule (1501) was less obviously Franciscan, being more austere. Abstinence from animal meats, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, and milk was required; bread, vegetables, fruit, and oil were the staple diet. The brothers dressed in a black wool habit, cord girdle, with cape and hood. The order enjoyed great initial popularity, and by 1550 there were over 400 houses in Europe. Today only a few survive in Italy and Spain.