Colonna, a princely family of Italy, of which the founder claimed that he brought from Jerusalem a part of the column (colonna) to which Christ was bound when scourged. It is now divided into the three lines of Colon-na-Paliano, Colonna-Stigliano, and Colonna di Sciarra. Pope Martin V. (Ottone Colonna), several personages who took a conspicuous part in the contest between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, and many other persons of historical or literary distinction, were members of this family. I. Fabrizio, lord high constable of Naples, died there in 1520. He served in the armies of France, and afterward in those of the king of Aragon. In 1512 he was taken prisoner at the battle of Ravenna by the duke of Ferrara, by whom he was treated with much consideration. II. Prospero, a general, cousin of the preceding, died in 1523. When Charles VIII. of France invaded Italy, Prospero embraced his cause, chiefly because the Ursini, the hereditary enemies of his house, took the opposite side. He afterward changed sides, and fought against France. At the battle of Villafranca, in 1515, he was taken prisoner; but having been restored to liberty, he again took the field against the French, gained the battle of Bicocca in 1522, and distinguished himself by the vigor of his operations, which were cut short by his death.
III. Vittoria, a poetess, daughter of Fabrizio Colonna, born in the castle of Marino in 1490, died in Rome in February, 1547. She was affianced by her parents when four years of age to Ferdinando Francesco d'Avalos, son of the marquis of Pes-cara, a child of the same age; and in their 17th year they were married. Shortly afterward her husband engaged in the war between France and Venice, receiving from Vittoria at parting a superb pavilion and an embroidered standard, as well as some leaves of palm in token of her hope that he would return crowned with honor. In his absence she occupied herself with literature and with her correspondence with him. In order to see him occasionally, she removed from Ischia to Naples. In the battle of Pavia (1525), at which Francis I. fell into the hands of his enemies, Vittoria's husband received wounds which brought on a fever, and he found it necessary to warn his wife of his dangerous condition. She at once set out for Milan, and at Viterbo was met by the intelligence that her husband was dead. Her grief caused her to lose her reason for a time. When restored she resisted offers of a second marriage from several princes who sought her hand. She turned again to literary studies, and consoled herself with the composition of poems in memory of her husband.
She also composed canzonets and sonnets of a devotional character, to which she gave the title of Rime spirituali. In 1541 she entered the convent di Suore in Orvieto, and afterward that of St. Catharine in Viterbo. Her beauty and virtues have been celebrated by Michel Angelo, Ariosto, and other poets. Her bust was placed in one of the collections of the capital in 1845. A selection of her poems is contained in Gironi's Raccolta di lirici italiani (Milan, 1808). A memoir of her is appended to the Life of Michel Angelo by John S. Harford (London, 1857). IV. Marc Antonio, duke of Paliano, distinguished for the part which he took in the battle of Lepanto (1571), died Aug. 2, 1584. On his return to Rome after that battle, he was received with the highest marks of honor, and was afterward made viceroy of Sicily by Philip II. of Spain. V. Fabio, born in Naples in 1567, died there in 1650. He was the author of many books on botany, and the first to write a botanical work with copperplate illustrations ( Naples, 1592).