FIORAVANTI, Aristotele
(b. ca. 1417, Bologna, d. ca. 1485, Moscow)


Italian engineer and architect, active also in Russia, also known as Aristotile da Bologna. The son of a local mason, Fieravante di Ridolfo (c. 1390-1430), Aristotele initially worked as a goldsmith. He secured notoriety as an engineer in 1455 first for transporting the campanile known as the Torre della Mangione (destroyed 1825) of Santa Maria del Tempio, Bologna, to a new site 18 m away, then for straightening the leaning campanile (destroyed 18th century) of San Biagio, Cento, and finally for straightening the leaning campanile of Sant'Angelo, Venice, which collapsed directly afterwards.

In 1458 he moved with his family from Bologna to Milan, where he entered the service of Francesco I Sforza, Duke of Milan. After being sent to Mantua in 1459 to straighten another tower, he worked for the Duke as a hydraulic engineer, repairing a canal near Parma (from 1459) and constructing others near Cremona (from 1460) as well as one (from 1462) from the River Crostolo (between Parma and Reggio Emilia). He also worked as a military engineer inspecting fortifications, in which capacity he is mentioned in Filarete's Trattato di architettura (1461-64).

Fioravanti returned to Bologna in 1464, and in the following year he was appointed the city architect and engineer. In 1467 he was invited by Matthias Corvinus to Hungary to prepare defences against the Turks, and he is reputed to have built a bridge over the Danube. In 1471 he visited Rome in order to transport the Vatican obelisk to the square in front of Old St Peter's, a task abandoned almost immediately at Pope Paul II's death. (The project was eventually undertaken by Domenico Fontana in 1586.)

Fioravanti returned to Bologna, where he was almost certainly involved in the design of the new façade of the Palazzo del Podestá. A model is said to have been prepared in 1472, but execution was delayed until 1484-94 and conducted by Francesco Fucci di Dozza (active 1478-1494) and Marsilio Infrangipani (active 1469-1517).

In 1475 Fioravanti left his family in Bologna and moved to Moscow, where in 1475-79 he rebuilt the cathedral of the Dormition (Uspensky) in the Kremlin for Ivan III. The cathedral was intended for major state ceremonies, including the coronation of the tsar. It had already been substantially reconstructed (from 1472) by local builders when in 1474 it was partly destroyed in an earthquake. Fioravanti began work afresh by replacing the previous foundations with new and much deeper ones, and he made every effort to ensure the building's structural stability, using specially hardened lightweight bricks and iron tie-rods for the vaults.

According to some accounts, he was thrown into prison by Ivan III when he asked to return to Italy, and died in captivity. According to other accounts, he participated as a military engineer and artillery commander in the campaigns against Novgorod (1477-78), Kazan (1482) and Tver (1485).