Colonna kōlônˈnä [key], 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 Orsini and Caetani families, generally siding with the Ghibellines, or antipapal faction, against the Guelph alliance (see Guelphs and Ghibellines). Sciarra Colonna, d. 1329, a bitter enemy of Pope Boniface VIII, 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 IV 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 V (Oddone Colonna) one of the most successful advocates of papal authority. Fabrizio Colonna, d. 1520, was a general of the Holy League against King Louis XII of France. His daughter was Vittoria Colonna (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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