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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arms of the Colonna family.

The Colonna family was a powerful noble family in medieval and Renaissance Rome, supplying one Pope and many other leaders. Their family is notable for their bitter feud with the Orsini family over influence in Rome until it was stopped by Papal Bull in 1511; in 1571 the Chiefs of both families married the 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 Columpna" 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[1].

In 1297, Cardinal Jacopo disinherited his brothers Ottone, Matteo, and Landolfo of their lands. The latter three appealed to Pope Boniface VIII, who ordered Jacopo to return the land, and furthermore hand over the family's strongholds of Colonna, Palestrina, and other towns to the Papacy. Jacopo refused; in May, Boniface removed him from the College of Cardinals and excommunicated him and his followers for four generations. The Colonna family (aside from the three brothers allied with the Pope) declared that Boniface had been elected illegally after the unprecedented abdication of Pope Celestine V three years previously. 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 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.

In the 1300s, the family sponsored the decoration of the Church of San Giovanni, most notably the floor mosaics.

In 1728, the family added the name Barberini to its family name when Giulio Cesare Colonna di Sciarra married Cornelia Barberini, daughter of the last male Barberini to hold the name, Taddeo Barberini.

The Colonna family have been Prince Assistants to the Papal Throne since 1710, though their papal princely title only dates from 1854.

The family residence in Rome, the Palazzo Colonna, is open to the public.

Notable members

See also


  1. ^ Werner Maleczek, Papst und Kardinalskolleg von 1191 bis 1216, Vienna 1984, p. 154-155. For a long time cardinal Giovanni di San Paolo, created in 1193, was identified as member of the Colonna family and its first representative in the College of Cardinals, but modern scholars have established that this is based on the falsehood from the beginning of 16th century (Helene Tillmann, "Ricerche sull'origine dei membri del collegio cardenalizio nel XII secolo. II/2. Identificazione dei cardinali del secolo XII di provenienza Romana", Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia, 1975, p. 401-402)


  • Rendina, Claudio. Le famiglie di Roma. Rome: Newton & Compton.  

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

COLONNA, a noble Roman family, second only to the Gaetani di Sermoneta in antiquity, and first of all the Roman houses in importance. The popes Marcellinus, Sixtus III., Stephen IV. and Adrian III. are said to have been members of it, but the authentic pedigree of the family begins with Pietro, lord of Columna, Palestrina and Paliano (about iioo), probably a brother of Pope Benedict IX. His great grandson Giovanni had two sons, respectively the founders of the Colonna di Paliano and Colonna di Sciarra lines. The third, or Colonna-Romano line, is descended from Federigo Colonna (1223). In the 12th century we find the Colonna as counts of Tusculum, and the family was then famous as one of the most powerful and turbulent of the great Roman clans; its feuds with the Orsini and the Gaetani are a characteristic feature of medieval Rome and the Campagna; like the other great nobles of the Campagna the Colonna plundered travellers and cities, and did not even spare the pope himself if they felt themselves injured by him. Bonif ace VIII. attempted to break their power, excommunicated them in 1297, and confiscated their estates. He proclaimed a crusade against them and captured Palestrina, but they afterwards revenged themselves by besieging him at Anagni, and Sciarra Colonna laid violent hands on His Holiness, being with difficulty restrained from actually murdering him (1303). In 1 347 the Colonna, at that time almost an independent power, were defeated by Cola di Rienzi, but soon recovered. Pope Martin V. (1417-1431) was a Colonna, and conferred immense estates on his family, including Marino, Frascati, Rocca di Papa, Nettuno, Palinao, &c., in the Campagna, and other fiefs in Romagna and Umbria. Their goods were frequently confiscated and frequently given back, and the house was subject to many changes of fortune; during the reign of Pope Alexander VI. they were again humbled, but they always remained powerful and important, and members of the family rose to eminence as generals, prelates and statesmen in the service of the Church or other powers. In the war of 1522 between France and Spain there were Colonna on both sides, and at the battle of Lepanto (1571) Marc Antonio Colonna, who commanded the papal contingent, greatly distinguished himself. A detailed record of the Colonna family would be a history of Rome. To-day there are three lines of Colonna: (1) Colonna di Paliano, with two branches, the princes and dukes of Paliano, and the princes of Stigliano; (2) Colonna di Sciarra, with two branches, Colonna di Sciarra, princes of Carbagnano, and Barberini-Colonna, princes of Palestrina; and (3) Colonna-Romano. The Colonna palace, one of the finest in Rome, was begun by Martin V. and contains a valuable picture and sculpture gallery.

See A. von Reumont, Geschichte der Stadt Rom (Berlin, 1868), containing an elaborate account of the family; F. Gregorovius, Geschichte der Stadt Rom (Stuttgart, 1872); Almanach de Gotha. (L. V.*)

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