Was watching this documentary, did a quick search on Gannibal and realized that May 14th, today, is the anniversary of his death.
NOTABLE AFRICANS: Major-General Abram Petrovich Gannibal, also Hannibal or Ganibal or Ibrahim Hannibal or Abram Petrov
Much of his early life is unknown but historians speculate that the most famous black figure in Russian history, who was kidnapped at the age of seven and taken to the court of the Ottoman Sultan at Constantinople, could have been from either present-day Eritrea, or Cameroon. It is also speculated that he may have spoken Kotoko, an Afro-Asiatic language spoken in West Africa.
During the year of his kidnap, the Sultan of Constantinople was either Mustafa II (reigned 1695–1703) or Ahmed III (reigned 1703–1730), and in a German biography written anonymously and informed by Gannibal’s first-hand accounts it states that, “the children of the noble families were taken to the ruler of all the Muslims, the Turkish sultan, as hostages”. These children would either be killed or sold into slavery. It is also said that Gannibal’s sister Lahan was kidnapped at the same time but died during the voyage after being brutally raped.
The following year, 1704, Gannibal was ransomed and taken to Moscow where he was adopted by Emporer Peter the Great. In 1705, Gannibal was baptized in St. Paraskeva Church in Vilnius, with Peter the Great as his godfather.
Gannibal was sent to France where he received an education in the arts, sciences and warfare. By the completion of his education in 1722, he was fluent in several languages. Whilst in France, he fought with the forces of Louis XV of France against those of Louis’ uncle Philip V of Spain and rose to the rank of captain. During this time he adopted the surname that he is known by in honor of the Carthaginian general Hannibal (Gannibal being the traditional transliteration of the name in Russian). Whilst in Paris, his biographer Hugh Barnes claims that he met and befriended Enlightenment figures such as Denis Diderot, the Baron de Montesquieu and Voltaire.
Gannibal then returned to Russia in 1722. However, in following the death of Peter the Great in 1755, Gannibal was exiled to Siberia in 1727 but was pardoned in 1730 for his skills in military engineering. Peter’s daughter Elizabeth became the new monarch in 1741 and as a result, Gannibal became a prominent figure in her court, rising to the rank of major-general and became superintendent of Reval from 1742 to 1752.
Gannibal married twice. His first wife was Evdokia Dioper, a Greek woman. The couple married in 1731 and had one daughter. Unfortunately Dioper despised her husband, whom she was forced to marry. When Gannibal found out that she had been unfaithful to him, he had her arrested and thrown into prison, where she spent eleven years living in terrible conditions. Gannibal began living with another woman, Christina Regina Siöberg (1705–1781), daughter of Mattias Johan Siöberg and wife Christina Elisabeth d’Albedyll, and married her bigamously in Reval (now Tallinn, Estonia), in 1736, a year after the birth of their first child and while he was still lawfully married to his first wife. His divorce from Dioper did not become final until 1753, upon which a fine and a penance were imposed on Gannibal, and Dioper was sent to a convent for the rest of her life. Gannibal’s second marriage was nevertheless deemed lawful after his divorce.
On her paternal side, Gannibal’s second wife was descended from noble families in Scandinavia and Germany: Siöberg (Sweden), Galtung (Norway) and Grabow (Denmark and Brandenburg). Her paternal grandfather was Gustaf Siöberg, Rittmester til Estrup, who died in 1694, whose wife Clara Maria Lauritzdatter Galtung (ca. 1651–1698) was the daughter of Lauritz Lauritzson Galtung (ca. 1615–1661) and of Barbara Grabow til Pederstrup (1631–1696). Abram Gannibal and Christina Regina Siöberg had ten children, including a son, Osip. Osip in turn would have a daughter, Nadezhda, the mother of Aleksandr Pushkin. Gannibal’s oldest son, Ivan, became an accomplished naval officer who helped found the city of Kherson in 1779 and attained the rank of General-in-Chief, the second highest military rank in imperial Russia.
Some British aristocrats descend from Gannibal, including Natalia Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster and her sister, Alexandra Hamilton, Duchess of Abercorn. George Mountbatten, 4th Marquess of Milford Haven, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, is also a direct descendant, as the grandson of Nadejda Mountbatten, Marchioness of Milford Haven.