The House of Colonna

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House of Colonna

from 1206 until 1728


The Colonna family was an important Italian noble house who ruled various lands and held fortresses in and around Rome. Their lines supplied one pope and many other Church and political leaders. The Colonna are famous for their centuries-old rivarly with the Orsini family for domination of lands and influence in Roman politics until it was stopped by Papal Bull in 1511; in 1571 the Chiefs of both families married nieces of Pope Sixtus V.

According to tradition, the Colonna are a branch of the Counts of Tusculum — by Peter (1099–1151) son of Gregory III , called Peter "de Columna" from his property, the Columna Castle, in Colonna, Alban Hills.
The first cardinal from the family was appointed in 1206 when Giovanni Colonna di Carbognano was made Cardinal Deacon of SS. Cosma e Damiano. At about this time a rivalry began with the pro-papal Orsini family, leaders of the Guelph faction. This reinforced the pro-Emperor Ghibelline course that the Colonna family followed throughout the period of conflict between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire (Wikipedia).

The 14th Century and Pope Martin V

The Colonna family sided with the Empire during the 13th century, and were outspoken opponents of Pope Boniface VIII. The dispute lead to open warfare, and in September Boniface appointed Landolfo to the command of his army, to put down the revolt of Landolfo's own Colonna relatives. This he did, and by the end of 1298 Colonna, Palestrina, and other towns had been captured and razed to the ground. The family's lands were distributed among Landolfo and his loyal brothers; the rest of the family fled Italy. Their conflict with Pope Boniface VIII led to destruction of the Colonna fortress at Palestrina in 1303.

In the 14th century, the family sponsored the decoration of the Church of San Giovanni, most notably the floor mosaics. In 1314, Cardinal Egidio Colonna died at Avignon, now in France, where the Popes had withdrawn. An Augustinian, he had studied theology in Paris under St. Thomas of Aquinas to become one of the most authoritative thinkers of his time, and tutor to French king Philip IV the Fair, (1268 - 29 November 1314). The celebrated poet Petrarch, was a great friend of the family, often living in Rome as a guest of the family.

The one Colonna pope, Martin V (Oddone Colonna) was elected on St. Martin's Day (November 11), 1417, at the Council of Constance by a conclave consisting of twenty-three cardinals and thirty delegates of the council, which after deposing anti-pope John XXIII (1410–15), had been for long divided by the conflicting discourses of Pope Gregory XII (1406–15) and anti-pope Benedict XIII (1394–1423). Martin V was widely esteemed for moderation, learning, uprightness, and business ability, but he is not seen as a reforming Pope. (Wikipedia)

The Renaissance and Colonna Condottieri

Fabrizio Colonna (1450 - 18 March 1520) was an Italian condottiero. He was married to Agnese da Montefeltro daughter of Federico da Montefeltro, 1st Duke of Urbino, and Battista Sforza. Fabrizio was known as count of Tagliacozzo and grand constable of the kingdom of Naples. Fabrizio was a general in the Holy League that fought against Louis XII of France. His daughter was Vittoria Colonna, who was an Italian poet, and a close friend of Michelangelo. His nephew Marcantonio was also a successful general. Fabrizio is the main speaker inMachiavelli's The Art of War and is referenced throughout the book as an authority on both Classical and current military structure, strategy, and tactics.

Prospero Colonna (1452–1523) was an Italian condottiero in the service of the Papal States and the Holy Roman Empire during the Italian Wars.

Biography (from Wikipedia)

A member of the ancient noble family of the Colonna, he was born in Civita Lavinia, near Velletri (Lazio), in 1452. He was a cousin of Fabrizio Colonna. His first notable action as a military leader was in 1484, when he defended the family castle of Paliano against an assault by the rival Orsini and Riario families. After some other battle deeds, Prospero, who had joined Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere's party, was imprisoned in Castel Sant'Angelo (Rome) by Pope Alexander VI. Once freed, he was soon imprisoned again for his allegiance to Charles VIII of France during his invasion of Italy. In the end, the King of France was victorious against the Pope and entered Rome, backed by Prospero and Fabrizio Colonna, in 1495. During the brief French rule over the Kingdom of Naples, Prospero obtained the duchy of Traetto and the county of Forlì. However, when Charles returned beyond the Alps, Prospero helped King Ferdinand II of Naples to evict the French viceroy from Naples. The situation changed again with the new French invasion of Louis XII. While the Neapolitan king Frederick IV fled to the island of Ischia, Fabrizio and Prospero Colonna tried to defend the kingdom. They were defeated and imprisoned in the Castel Nuovo of Naples. They were also excommunicated by Alexander VI, who took their castles in the Lazio. Eventually ransomed, both cousins then entered the service of Consalvo de Cordoba of Spain, viceroy of Naples. Prospero Colonna had an important role in the Spanish victory at Cerignola (1503), which gave Spain the keys to Naples. After Alexander VI's death, he was also able to take back his territories in the Lazio. He commanded the light cavalry at the Battle of Garigliano. Prospero then added Itri, Sperlonga, Ceccano and Sonnino to his fiefs, becoming once again a great feudal lord in southern Italy. He married Covella di Sanseverino, who gave him an heir, Vespasiano. In 1515, he was commander of the forces of Pope Leo X in north-western Italy near Villafranc when the army of Francis I, King of France, crossed the Alps preparatory to the Battle of Marignano. In a surprising and humiliating raid, Colonna and his staff were captured by a French cavalry force led by the Chevalier Bayard. As he was taken, he said of France, "It is a country I have always wanted to visit." Continuing in the service of the Pope, Colonna gained a decisive victory against France in northern Italy in 1522 (Battle of Bicocca). His health was declining, however, and he died in 1523 in l'Hôtel Clemenceau at Milan.

Colonna Family Coat of Arms

Colonna Coat of Arms
Portrait of Pope Martin V

Pope Martin V
(Oddone Colonna, 1368 - 1431)

Fabrizio Colonna discussing the Art of War

"Fabrizio Colonna and Cosimo Ruccellai discussiong the Art of War"

The House of Colonna - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Prospero Colonna
"Confident in the constancy of the lady of his affections, Prospero took for his companion a gentleman of low degree, to whom she unfortunately transferred the love he thought was his own. Feeling that he had been the author of his own ruin, Prospero took for device the bull of Perillus, which had proved the death of its inventor, with the motto, Ingenio experior funera digna meo, "I suffer a death befitting my invention."

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