Abram Gannibal

Gannibal, Abram Petrovich


(also Ibragim Gannibal). Born circa 1697, in Lagon, northern Ethiopia; died May 14, 1781, in Suida, in present-day Leningrad Oblast. Russian military engineer, general in chief (1759). A. S. Pushkin’s maternal great-grandfather.

Gannibal, the son of an Ethiopian prince, was taken hostage by the Turks and shipped to Moscow in 1706 by S. Raguzskii, the Russian ambassador in Constantinople. When he was baptized in 1707, he was named Peter after his godfather, Peter I, but documents listed him as Abram of Peter until 1737; from then on he bore the family name of Gannibal. Gannibal was Peter I’s chamberlain and secretary from 1706 to 1717 and studied military engineering in France from 1717 to 1723. Upon his return to Russia he directed engineering work in Kronstadt, on the Ladoga Canal, and in other places and taught mathematics and engineering. In 1726 he wrote a book on the art of military engineering. From 1727 to 1731 he was exiled in Siberia. Gannibal advanced under Elizaveta Petrovna and held high posts in the military engineering department. He retired in 1762.

Osip Abramovich Gannibal, Pushkin’s grandfather, was the son of Gannibal’s second wife, Kh. R. Sheberg. Pushkin immortalized his great-grandfather in the short story “The Negro of Peter the Great.”

References in periodicals archive ?
afterthought, concern Abram Gannibal, thus paralleling the Bulgarin
O'Neil suggests that Pushkin was particularly drawn to the character of Othello because of the resonance with his own African ancestry (from his great-grandfather, Abram Gannibal, who worked at the court of Peter the Great), and translated many of Othello's features into the characters of Ibragim in The Moor of Peter the Great, and Mazepa in Poltava.
Had Tynianov relied on Pushkin's romanticized portrait of his great-grandfather in The Blackamoor of Peter the Great, he might have presented Abram Gannibal as the educated, accomplished, valued engineer and military officer that he was.