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Italian Renaissance Learning Resources

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Art

Colonna, Vittoria

Marchesa di Pescara

(b ?Marino, ?1490; d Rome, Feb 1547).

Italian writer. She was the granddaughter of Federigo II da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and her accomplishments suggest that she received a strong humanist education. In 1509 she married Ferrante Francesco d’Avalos, the Marchese di Pescara, a soldier in the service of Emperor Charles V. Her husband died, disgraced, in 1525, suspected of plotting against the Emperor. After his death, Vittoria wrote sonnets to commemorate him and probably to vindicate his name. She continued to write poetry and was praised by Pietro Bembo and Baldassare Castiglione for her contribution to vernacular literature. From the 1520s she was involved with Catholic reformers, including Cardinal Reginald Pole (1500–58), whose beliefs emphasizing justification through faith and direct personal communion informed her spiritual sonnets. In Rome in the late 1530s the Marchesa became a close friend of Michelangelo and introduced him to reformist circles.

Marjorie A. Och