Abram Petrovich Gannibal

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Abram Petrovich Gannibal
Died

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 ?
They'd all heard of the Russian writer Alexander Pushkin, a great-grandson of Abram Gannibal, who was allegedly taken as a slave from (then) Abyssinia and presented to Tsar Peter in Russia, who then raised him as his godson.
It accommodates Pushkin, whose Eritrean great-grandfather Gannibal went from slave to Afro-Russian nobleman in the court of Peter the Great.
(1) His great grand-father, Abram Petrovich Gannibal, taken asa child by slave traders, was bought for the Tsar who made him hisgodson and looked after his upbringing.
Figliarin decided, sitting at home That my black granddad Gannibal Had been purchased for a bottle of rum And fell into the hands of a skipper.
All of the remaining "Abyssinian" references occur in Nabokov's Appendix 1, about Pushkin's ancestor, Abram Gannibal. Having painstakingly traced all available sources to check a rather dubious hypothesis of Pushkin's descent from Ethiopian royalty, Nabokov concludes Gannibals story with a semi-absurd final paragraph, in which the very last "Abyssinian" reference occurs:
30 Which famous writer was the greatgrandson of AbramPetrovich Gannibal, an Ethiopian taken to Russia as a boy who rose to become a major-general?
The stolen prince; Gannibal, adopted son of Peter the Great, great-grandfather of Alexander Pushkin, and Europe's first black intellectual.
THE STOLEN PRINCE: GANNIBAL, ADOPTED SON OF PETER THE GREAT, GREAT-GRANDFATHER OF ALEXANDER PUSHKIN, AND EUROPE'S FIRST BLACK INTELLECTUAL is perhaps most startling for the final five words in its subtitle: a black intellectual in early Europe?
There can be few modern historical figures who led such an extraordinary life as Abram Petrovich Gannibal, yet remain relatively unknown.
Gannibal: The Moor of Petersburg by Hugh Barnes Profile Books, hb, pp288, 16.99 [pounds sterling]
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.