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Petrok Maly

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Title: Petrok Maly  
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Collection: Italian Architects, Russian Architects, Year of Birth Unknown, Year of Death Unknown
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Petrok Maly

Ascension Church in Kolomenskoye, Moscow

Petrok Maly, also known as Petrok Maly Fryazin (Russian: Петрок Малый Фрязин, lit. Peter Junior) (? - c. 1539), was an Italian architect, who arrived in Moscow together with the envoys of Pope Clement VII in 1528.

It is known that Petrok Maly adopted Russian Orthodoxy, got married, and received an estate from the grand prince. He was not commissioned with any important architectural assignments until 1533, except for the construction of the Ascension Church in Kolomenskoye (the true architect's identity is still contested), one of the earliest Russian churches showing tented roof design. In 1533, Petrok Maly was commissioned to build the so-called Kitai-gorod wall, the construction of which would be finished in 1538. The 2.6-km wall originally featured 14 towers and six gates. It was as thick as it was high, the average being six meters in both dimensions. Petrok Maly was also ordered to build a number of secret chambers under the towers and the wall itself.

Remaining part of the Kitai-gorod wall in Zaryadye, Moscow

In 1539, Ivan the Terrible sent Petrok Maly to Sebezh, where he would build a wall around the kremlin in three weeks. On his way back to Moscow through Pskov, Petrok Maly visited Pskovo-Pechorsky Monastery, from which he would suddenly flee to Livonia with his translator Grigori Mistrobanov. It is possible that Petrok Maly was afraid of being executed for knowing the exact location of the secret chambers under the Kitai-gorod wall, which he had probably interconnected with those in the Moscow Kremlin itself. The "papal architect" was soon caught and taken to Dorpat (Tartu), the bishop of which wanted to extradite him to the grand duke of Muscovy. Petrok Maly's later fate is unknown, but his name was never mentioned in any of the Russian chronicles after 1539.

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