The great grand-father of Alexander Pushkin was born in Africa. He became a prominent member of Russian nobility.
Abram Petrovich Gannibal was born somewhere in Africa in 1696. The exact date and location are uncertain. What is certain is that he was taken from Africa and given as a gift to Emperor Peter the Great. It seems that he was some kind of child of nobility in Africa who was kidnapped and taken to the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. A year later, he was ransomed and taken to Russia.
Peter the Great was said to be fond of Gannibal’s intelligence. During military campaigns, Gannibal would travel alongside the Emperor.
At the age of 21, Abram Gannibal was taken to France to be educated in sciences, arts, and warfare. While in France, he met Denis Diderot, Baron de Montesquieu, and Voltaire. Voltaire even went so far as to call him the “dark star of the Enlightenment”. (This claim is disputed but I would like to believe it because it’s pretty awesome).
Gannibal returned to Russia in 1722. In 1725, Emperor Peter died and Prince Menshikov became ruler of Russia. Apparently, Gannibal was better educated than Prince Menshikov, and he was black. This made the prince uncomfortable, so he exiled Gannibal to Siberia.
When Peter’s daughter, Elizabeth, took over in 1741, Gannibal became a prominent member of her court. She even gave him an estate.
Gannibal is the great-grandfather of Russian novelist Alexander Pushkin. Pushkin is considered the father of modern Russian literature. Also, several British aristocrats trace their lineage to Abram Petrovich Gannibal.
Why he’s been forgotten: He’s an interesting piece of Russian history, but the world is large and full of stories.
Read more about Abram Petrovich Gannibal.
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