Celebrated family, probably an off-shoot of the Counts of Tusculum, named from the castle of Colonna in the Alban Hills. It played an important role in the history of medieval and Renaissance Italy and still flourishes in Rome and Naples. The Colonna are first mentioned in 1101, and assume a prominent position about the destruction of Tusculum 90 years later. They were Ghibellines, antipapal, fond of liberty, and perpetually in strife with the Orsini, their Guelph neighbours. Though they incurred excommunication very frequently, they were rarely without representation in the cardinalate from the time Giovanni was appointed in 1192. Among their well-known cardinals were Egidio; Nicola (1278) and his nephew Pietro, the bitter enemies of Boniface VIII; Giovanni (died 1348), papal biographer; Odo, who became pope (Martin V), and ended the Great Western Schism; Prospero (died 1463), patron of art and letters; Pompeo (1517), infamous for his part in the desecration of Saint Peter’s and the Vatican in 1526. The most celebrated lay member was Marcantonio, victor in the great naval battle of Lepanto in 1571.