The Colonna family was a Roman family that played an important part in politics from the 12th to the 18th century. They were vassals of the Pope, but had pro-imperial leanings in the Middle Ages. Their main enemy was the Orsini family; this lasted until they were reconciled by Pope Julius II in 1511; Pope Sixtus V later arranged a marriage between the two houses to ensure a lasting peace between them. A number of members of the family were created cardinals.
Notable members of the familyEdit
The following is a list, in chronological order, of some of the most notable members of the family:
Giovanni Colonna the ElderEdit
Giovanni Colonne the elder (died 1216) was a former Benedictine monk created cardinal in 1192/3 by Pope Celestine III, the first of the Colonna family to be created cardinal. He was a protector of the newly formed Franciscan Order and a friend of St Francis of Assisi. St Bonaventure praised him for his virtues.
Giovanni Colonna the YoungerEdit
Giovanni Colonna the Younger (died 1245) was a nephew of the former; he was created cardinal in 1212. He took part in the conquest of Damietta in 1219 during the Fifth Crusade. Later, he assisted Emperor Frederick II against the Pope. In 1222 he brought the Pillar of Scourging from the Holy Land to Rome, and placed it in his titular church, Santa Prassede.
Egidio (Aegidius) ColonnaEdit
Egidio (Aegidius) Colonna (born c. 1247, died 1316) was an Augustininan Hermit, theologian and professor at the University of Paris. Superior-General of his order from 1292. Archbishop of Bourges, France, from 1295.
Giacomo Colonna (died 1318) was a nephew of Giovanni the Younger; he was created cardinal in 1278 by Nicholas III, who was from the Orsini family. By this gesture, the Pope tried to reconcile the two families. Giacomo fell out with Pope Benedict VIII, and he and his nephew Pietro, also a cardinal, were deprived of their rank; the Pope also excommunicated the whole family and seized their property. They were both reinstated by Pope Clement V in 1305.
Pietro Colonna (died 1326) was a nephew of Giacomo (see there for more information).
Giovanni Colonna (died 1508) was a nephew of Prospero Colonna, created cardinal at age 24 by Pope Sixtus IV. Imprisoned in Castel Sant'Angelo two years later because of a feud between the Pope and the Colonna family. Set free after a year.
Vittoria Colonna (born 1490, died 1547) was known for her literary talents, and for attracting great artists to Rome, among them Michelangelo. During the Reformation, she leaned towards Protestantism, but her friend Reginald Cardinal Pole kept her faithful to the Church.