Vittoria Colonna

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Colonna, Vittoria (14901547)

Italian poet and noblewoman, a significant friend and patron of Renaissance authors and artists. The daughter of a nobleman who held the title of Grand Constable of Naples, she was born in Marino, an estate of her father Fabrizio Colonna near Rome. Her marriage to Francesco D'Avalos, the marquis of Pescara, was arranged when she was just four years old. The wealth and prestige of her family attracted several more offers of marriage, but she met and fell in love with D'Avalos and finally married him when she was nineteen. Shortly after the ceremony in Naples, her husband enlisted with the armies of Emperor Charles V, who was fighting the French in northern Italy. D'Avalos was taken prisoner in Italy in 1512 and spent the next dozen years campaigning throughout Italy, while Colonna remained at his estate on the island of Ischia. After the Battle of Pavia in 1525, when D'Avalos was offered the throne of Naples for turning against Charles V, she persuaded him to turn down the offer. D'Avalos died soon afterward of wounds suffered in battle.

Grieving and determined to remain a single widow, Colonna devoted the rest of her life to the support of religious orders, the reform of the Catholic Church, and her poetry. Her verses in praise and memory of Francesco D'Avalos would be collected in 1538 under the title Rime de la Divina Vittoria Colonna Marchesa di Pescara. Her later poetry turned to religion and her spiritual life; she was an outspoken advocate of reform in the Catholic Church but would not accept Protestantism. She lived in Rome, Orvieto, and Ferrara, where she helped to establish a monastery, and became a patron and close friend of artists, including Michelangelo, and the writers Baldassare Castiglione and Pietro Bembo.

See Also: Michelangelo Buonarroti

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Vittoria Colonna, marchesa di Pescara (vētô´rēä kōlôn´nä märkā´zä dē pāskä´rä), 1492–1547, Italian poet; daughter of Fabrizio Colonna. Her love for her husband, Ferrante d'Avalos, is the subject of part of her lamenting verse. After his death (1525) she lived in convents, devoting herself to religious reform. The larger part of her work treats religious themes. In her later years she was a close friend of Michelangelo. For a translation of her verse, see Lorna de' Lucchi, An Anthology of Italian Poems (1922).