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(kōlôn`nä), noble Roman family that played a leading part in the history of Rome from the 12th to the 16th cent. They were hereditary enemies of the OrsiniOrsini
, powerful Roman family that included three popes and numerous other churchmen, soldiers and statesmen. The eponymous ancestor was one Ursus. Giacinto Orsini, who became Pope Celestine III in 1191, founded the family's greatness.
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 and Caetani families, generally siding with the Ghibellines, or antipapal faction, against the Guelph alliance (see Guelphs and GhibellinesGuelphs and Ghibellines
, opposing political factions in Germany and in Italy during the later Middle Ages. The names were used to designate the papal (Guelph) party and the imperial (Ghibelline) party during the long struggle between popes and emperors, and they were also used
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). Sciarra Colonna, d. 1329, a bitter enemy of Pope Boniface VIIIBoniface VIII,
1235–1303, pope (1294–1303), an Italian (b. Anagni) named Benedetto Caetani; successor of St. Celestine V.

As a cardinal he was independent of the factions in the papal court, and he opposed the election of Celestine.
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, was excommunicated, fled to the court of King Philip IV of France, and led, with Chancellor Nogaret, the French expedition that captured (1303) Boniface. As senator of Rome, Sciarra supported Holy Roman Emperor Louis IVLouis IV
or Louis the Bavarian,
1287?–1347, Holy Roman emperor (1328–47) and German king (1314–47), duke of Upper Bavaria. After the death of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII the Luxemburg party among the electors set aside Henry's son, John of Luxemburg,
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 during his Italian expedition and bestowed the imperial crown on him in 1328, but he was forced into exile when Louis departed shortly afterward. Despite its antipapal attitude, the family produced in Pope Martin VMartin V,
1368–1431, pope (1417–31), a Roman named Oddone Colonna; successor of Gregory XII. He was created cardinal by Innocent VII, and in the schism (see Schism, Great) he attended and supported the decisions of the Council of Pisa (see Pisa, Council of).
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 (Oddone Colonna) one of the most successful advocates of papal authority. Fabrizio Colonna, d. 1520, was a general of the Holy LeagueHoly League,
in Italian history, alliance formed (1510–11) by Pope Julius II during the Italian Wars for the purpose of expelling Louis XII of France from Italy, thereby consolidating papal power.
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 against King Louis XII of France. His daughter was Vittoria ColonnaColonna, Vittoria, marchesa di Pescara
, 1492–1547, Italian poet; daughter of Fabrizio Colonna (see under Colonna). Her love for her husband, Ferrante d'Avalos, is the subject of part of her lamenting verse.
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 (see separate article). Prospero Colonna, 1452–1523, Fabrizio's cousin, also fought the French in the Italian Wars and defeated them (1522) at La Bicocca. Marcantonio Colonna, 1535–84, duke of Paliano, commanded the papal forces in the battle of Lepanto (1571) against the Turks. Many other members of the family distinguished themselves in the service of the Holy See and of Spain. Three lines of the family, all of princely rank, are still in existence. The Colonna Palace in Rome was begun by Martin V.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a Roman feudal family. The first reliable information on the family refers to the 12th century.

The Colonna had huge estates in Rome, the Papal territory, and southern Italy. They played an important role in political life up to the 16th century. They constantly competed with the Orsini family. In the struggle between the emperor and the pope, they most often took the side of the Ghibellines. The Colonna family exerted considerable influence on papal elections. Pope Martin V (1417–31), a member of the family, was noted for his nepotistic policy. The cardinals Jacopo Colonna (died 1318) and Pietro Colonna (died 1326) along with Sciarra Colonna (brother of Jacopo, died 1329) carried on a bitter struggle against Pope Boniface VIII. The Colonna family headed the struggle of Roman feudal lords against the movement of Cola di Rienzi. The condottiere Prospero Colonna (1452–1523) was a member of the family. During the Italian Wars of 1494–1559, he commanded the imperial troops that defeated the French at La Bicocca (1522).


Paschini, P. J. Colonna. Rome, 1955.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The community later became a target when conflict broke out between Pope Boniface VIII and the Colonna family [c.
In Avignon, he was in the process of negotiating a separation from his long time patron, the Colonna family, in order to dedicate himself to the Roman cause.
Though Petrarch had several patrons, it is in the patronage of King Robert of Naples and the Colonna family that he employs a strategy of poetic appropriation in his political rhetoric.
(2) Yet in her Rime (Citta di Castello: Molinelli, 1628), a 313-page book, she included an overwhelming number of laudatory poems addressed to various members of the Colonna family, to many other members of the Roman nobility (such as the Barberini, Borghese, Ludovisi, Orsini, Montalto, Aldobrandini, Capponi, Pio, etc., especially to the cardinals of these families), as well as to three popes, Urban VIII and his two predecessors, Paul V and Gregory XV, and even to King Louis XIII of France.
The wide ranging contributions consider different facets of 13th and 14th century European art including the use of monochrome imagery in medieval painting, a possible Colonna family stemma in the Church of Santa Prassede in Rome, Duccio and devotion to the Virgin's foot in early Sienese painting, and devotional imagery and the Franciscan spirituals in Romagna and the Marche.
While Showtime may focus on the Borgia family, in "The Dynasts" Walsh follows the ups and downs of the Colonna family, which had 18 cardinals between 1206 and 1766, although only one of them ever became pope.
The ancient town of Palestrina, much of which had been constructed over the terraces and platforms of the sanctuary in the intervening centuries, was a longstanding fief of the Colonna family until the title was purchased (along with the hand of a Colonna princess) by Taddeo Barberini (1602-47), nephew of Pope Urban VIII and brother of the antiquarian-minded Cardinal Francesco Barberini (1597-1679).
We learn about the great Vittoria Colonna whose diplomatic efforts, though ultimately unsuccessful, were indispensable to her brother during the Salt War (a war between Pope Paul III and the Colonna family in 1541 where he tried to impose a salt tax on the Colonna towns in the Castelli Romani).
The cast is not a familiar one for North American audiences, with tenor Stefan Vinke in the demanding title role, soprano Marika Schonberg as his sister, Irene, bass Pavel Kudinov as Steffano, head of the Colonna family, and mezzo Elena Zhidkova as Adriano, Colonna's son (yes, Wagner did write a trouser role).
The powerful Colonna family, whose antecedents included Pope Martin V, had become titular rulers of Caravaggio's native Duchy of Milan, and showed a solicitous concern for his welfare on several occasions.
Already in 1296 Boniface issued a bull forbidding governments to tax the clergy without papal permission, but he had to drop it against Philip the Fair's countermeasures and a suspiciously convenient rising against Boniface by the Colonna family in Rome, which took time to put down.
Further, the head of the Colonna family fled to France, made common cause with King Philip IV, and helped him in the invasion of Italy that led to the arrest of Boniface at Anagni and the beginning of the Babylonian Captivity.(26)