COLONNA, VITTORIA (1490-1547), the daughter of Fabrizio Colonna, grand constable of the kingdom of Naples, and of Anna da Montefeltre, daughter of the " Good Duke" Frederick of Urbino, was born at Marino, a Roman fief of her father's house. Betrothed when four years old, at the instance of Ferdinand of Aragon, to Francisco D'Avalos, son of the marquis of Pescara, she received the highest education, and gave early proof of a love of letters. Her hand was soueht, among other suitors, by the dukes of Savoy and BraganQa, but at seventeen, as , she ardently desired, her marriage with D'Avalos took place. The couple resided on the islet of Ischia till 1511, when the husband offered his sword to the Holy League, in whose service he was taken at Ravenna (1512), and carried to France. During the months of exile and the long years of campaigning that followed this mishap, they corresponded in most passionate terms, in prose and verse. They saw each other but seldom, for Pescara was one of Charles V.'s most brilliant and active captains; but Vittoria's influence over hint was sufficient to keep him, after Pavia (1525), from joining the projected league against the emperor, and to make Min refuse the crown of Naples that was offered him as the price of his treason. The same year he died of wounds at Milan. Vittoria, who was hastening to tend him, received the news of his death at Viterbo. She halted, and turned off to Rome, whence, after a brief stay, she departed for Naples. There she remained for about ten years. She refused several suitors, and began to produce those 1?ime Spirituali that form so distinct a feature in her works. In 1536 she left Naples for Ferrara, calling at Rome, where she was visited by Charles V., and whither in 1538 she came to take up her abode. In Rome, besides winning the esteem of Reginald Pole and Cardinal Contarini, she became the object of a passionate friendship on the part of Michelangelo, then in his sixty-fourth year. The great artist wrote for her some of his finest sonnets, made drawings for her, and spent long hours in her society. Her removal from Rome to Orvieto (1541), on the occasion of her brother Ascanio Colonna's revolt against Paul III., and her subsequent residence in Viterbo (1511-45), where Reginald Pole was governor and legate, produced no change in their relations; they visited and corresponded as before. She returned to Rome in 1546, and died there about the end of February 1547.
The amatory and elegiac poems of Vittoria Colonna, which are the production of a delicate and sympathetic imitativeness rather than of a vigorous and original talent, were printed at Parma in 1538 ; a second edition appeared in the following year ; a third, containing sixteen of the Rime Spiritual, was published at Florence soon afterwards ; and a fourth, including a still larger proportion of the religious element, was issued at Venice in 1544.