Peter “The Great” & His African General! By: Jory James
I was born in Iowa in 1987, to a white mother and a black father. I would like to think I was born into a utopia as far as “race” was concerned. Being black or white was not an issue, paying the bills, eating, paying rent, these were the issues and “race” was not on the menu. In school I found that my father’s history was relegated to a month (Feb) and my father would angrily remind me that it was the shortest month of the year. America’s history is a couple hundred years old, European history is thousands of years old, African History?? Based on my schooling it would have started with Harriett Tubman and Sojourner Truth then on to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.
Now these are great Americans their stories are amazing and I am forever in their debt for their bravery. To be honest the African American history was saddening, no Presidents? No Kings or Queens? No great soldiers? It was almost as if we were forced to this country out of thin air. For some reason which I cannot explain, African History is not put on the same pedestal as European history in the United States. It is my belief this lack of history has led to a lack of identity in the African community! To find that we are not just descendants of unintelligent, un-organized, inhuman, slaves can be very liberating, to say the least. At the age of 12, I read somewhere,” If you want to hide something from a black person put it in a book.” This has led to my never ending research of African History.
Abram Petrovich Gannibal
(Major-General, Military Engineer, Govenor of Reval, and Noblemen to the Russian Empire)
This is a name I had never heard, and certainly had not come across in my reading. I want to tell his-story and shed light on more African History. He was born in 1696. This was during the early stages of America, at the time there were only 12 colonies in America with the 12 states yet to be united. Slavery already wide spread in Europe, Spain, America’s, etc. Early writings describe his birth place as a village called “Lagon”, which would be between current day Ethiopia and Eritrea or he was born on the Logone River, in Cameroon, south of Lake Chad. At the age of 7 (1703), the children of Muslim families were taken to the Turkish Sultan (In Constantinople) as hostages, and were to either be murdered or sold into slavery. He spent one year in Constantinople as a prisoner/slave and was ransomed. Then brought to the Russian capital by the deputy of the Russian Ambassador, on orders of his superiors, one of these men being Pyotr Andreyevich Tolstoy (Russian Statesmen and the great grandfather of Celebrated Russian Writer Leo Tolstoy his ideas on Non-violence help shape men such as Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr.).
He was given as a gift to Emperor Peter “The Great”. Peter would adopt him and raise him with his children. Gannibal was Baptized in 1705 with Peter as his Godfather and the Queen of Poland as his Godmother. This statement was made by his wife or someone in her family not long after he died,
” …he (Peter) wished to make examples of them and put (Russians) to shame by convincing them that out of every people and even from among wild men – such as negroes, whom our civilized nations assign exclusively to the class of slave, there can be formed men who by dint of application can obtain knowledge and learning and thus become helpful to their monarch.”
Peter “The Great” (1672-1725) ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire. He co-ruled until his brother Ivan V’s death in 1682- 1696, he became sole ruler until his death in 1725. He stood a giant sized 6’8 during the era. He had two wives and fourteen children, only 3 of whom survived to adulthood. His eldest son, was caught in a plot to kill his father and was tortured and sentenced to death, he died two days before his execution, possibly from the torture.
Peter carried the same high expectations of Gannibal as he did his own sons. The start of making this man began with education and he would receive some of the finest schooling in the world. He was sent to France, where he studied Civil and military engineering. He studied at the Ecole d’Artillerie of La Fere as well as Ecole d’Artillerie of Metz. He became fluent in several languages, he knew mathematics and geometry. His military career is nothing short of extraordinary! He gained the rank of captain fighting with Louis XV forces against Louis’ uncle Philip V of Spain.
It was during this time he named himself Abram Petrovich Gannibal! Such a liberating experience it must have been for him, to learn the history of the world then with this knowledge name himself. He adopted the Sir name Gannibal in honor of the Carthagianian general Hannibal, (Hannibal took an army from Africa, and climbed the Alps with elephants and foot soldieries. He almost wiped out Rome, and occupied the area for 17 years). French Writer, historian, philosopher and personal friend of Ben Franklin, Voltaire, referred to Gannibal as the, “Dark star of Enlightenment.” His Schooling was finished in 1722 and he was due to head back to Russia, it’s rumored that Peter was there waiting for him. Peter would soon fall ill and in 1725, he died at the age of 52.
Empress Anna)Upon the death of Peter, “the Russian Privy Council” named Anna as successor to the throne. Anna was the daughter of former co-ruler and brother of Peter “The Great”, Ivan V. The Council did this hoping to make Anna a figure head and to gain more power themselves. This however backfired in many ways, Anna turned out to be very cruel. She amused herself with the humiliation and embarrassment of others. She had her cousin’s (Future Empress Elizabeth’s) lover tongue removed and banished him to Siberia. Gannibal himself was exiled to Siberia in 1727. He was then pardoned in 1730 for his military engineering. Anna would stay as Empress until her death in 1740. Before her death she named a successor, her nephew Ivan VI. By naming him her successor she continued the families’ line to the throne.
Ivan VI was 13 months old when Empress Anna died and he was named Emperor, the following day she named Ernest Johann Von Biron as Regent. He was a Duke and thought to be the longtime lover of Empress Anna. Peter “The Greats” Oldest living child Elizabeth led a coup (An overthrow of power, a sudden deposition of government) to take back the thrown. Her attempt was successful there was no blood shed. Baby Ivan VI, was put in a dungeon along with his siblings and their mother was sent into exile. They all died in some form of imprisonment or murder.
Empress Elizabeth’s new monarch (1741) Gannibal, became a prominent person in her court. Rising to the rank of Major-General (General and Chief) this title in the United States was held by George Washington, Winfield Scott, and Ulysses S. Grant. He also became Superintendent/Govenor of Reval, (Reval is current day Tallin and is the capital and largest city in Estonia) he held this position from 1742-1752. In 1742 Empress Elizabeth gifted him the Mikhailovskoye estate in Pskov province with hundreds of serfs, he retired there in 1762.
(Different photos of the Mikhailovskoye Estate in Pskov, Which Gannibal and His Grandson Pushkin Lived in.)
Gannibal wanted very much to have a family and married twice. This is based on the work done by Alexander Pushkin, in it, Peter “The Great” pushes Gannibal to marry and wants him to marry whoever he wants black or white. His first marriage may have been arranged by Peter “The Great” and was a Forced marriage. His wife was a Greek woman by the name of Evdokia Dioper. Either she didn’t want to marry him because she wasn’t in love with him, she did not find him attractive, or she did not like the fact that he was “African.” The belief is that she despised him for whatever reason. They married in 1731, She bore him his first child, a girl. When he found out she had been unfaithful, he had her arrested and jailed, and she spent 11 years in horrid conditions. He began living with Christina Regina Sioberg, she is the decendant of Nobel Scandinavians and Germans. Gannibal bigamously married her in 1736, a year after he and Christina’s first child was born and while he was still married to Dioper. His divorce to Dioper was not final until 1753, a fine and penance were placed on Gannibal and his now ex-wife, Dioper, was sent to a convent for the rest of her life.
Gannibal and Soiberg would have 10 children together. Gannibals oldest son, Ivan, was an accomplished Naval Officer he helped found the city of Kherson in 1779, he also attained General and Chief, the second highest military rank in imperial Russia. Another son Osip had a daughter, Nadezhda, the mother of Alexander Pushkin. Alexander Pushkin is a famous Russian writer and Poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. His most known work being the unfinished novel,” Peter the Greats Negro”. Pushkin had a wife and 4 Children himself, said to be very touchy about his honor he fought in 29 duels the last one proving to be fatal as he was shot and killed at the early age of 37, its believed that he was defending the honor of his wife.
(Gannibal’s Oldest son Ivan, Gannibal’s Granddaughter Nadezhda the mother of, Alexander Pushkin)
The Descendants of Abram Petrovich Gannibal and Alexander Pushkin
Two of Alexander Pushkin’s daughters would go on to marry and have more descendants that reach the British Royal Family! His Daughter Natalya Alexandrovna Pushkina married Prince Nicholas Wilhelm of Nassau in 1868(Photo’s Below). Their marriage was deemed “morganatic”.( is a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which prevents the passage of the husband’s titles and privileges to the wife and any children born of the marriage.) Natalya was designated Countess of Merenburg.
His daughter Sophia married Grand Duke Mikhail, this also consider a “morganatic” marriage. Sophia and Mikhails children would be known as counts and countess. (Photo’s below)
Sophia’s daughter Nadjeda would marry someone of her own social standing, she married Prince George Battenburg, “2nd Marquess of Milford Haven”. He was also born of “Morganatic” marriage, though he was the grandson of Queen Victoria. (The Battenburg name would change to Mountbatten during the outbreak of World War 2, this was a way to distance the German sounding last name).
(Nadjeda and George Mountbatten Photo’s below)
Nadjeda would be known as The Marchioness of Milford Haven. She and George were married at Buckingham Palace. George is the older brother of Princess Alice. Princess Alice gave birth to a son named Prince Phillip.
Prince Phillip, is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, who is the current ruling Queen. They have been married since 1947. She bore him 4 children, one being heir apparent and future King, Prince Charles! Queen Elizabeth is the second longest serving head of a British Monarch. Prince Phillips and Queen Elizabeth II are 3rd cousins as he is also a descendant of Queen Victoria (She being the longest serving Monarch 63 years)
(Prince Phillip, Queen Elizabeth II, and their son future King, Prince Charles
Alexander Suvorov – Count Suvorov of Rymnik, Price of Italy, Count of the Holy Roman Empire, was a Generalissimo (Higher rank than a 5 star general) of the Russian Empire. One of the few generals in history believed to have never lost a battle with a record of 63-0! It is believed that as a young boy he an Abram Gannibal lived in the same village. Suvorov wanted to be in the military, however due to often being ill as a child his father thought he should be a civil servant rather join the military. Abram Gannibal overheard Suvorv’s father complaining of this so he asked to meet the young Alexander Suvorov. He was so impressed he convinced Suvorov’s father to let him serve and serve he did! He gives much praise and credit to Abram Gannibal for his military career.
Abram Petrovich Gannibal’s story is one that should be known and should be told. He proves all the scientific theories that would come along a hundred years later to be completely false. He was African and his decedents were able to do amazing things and affect their monarch in great positive ways. If you take a wild dog or cat as a baby and throw them into the woods, they will still grow to act like a dog or cat, the cat will meow, pounce, and scratch and so on. The dog will also bark, sniff, chase and so on. If you take a baby from any race of people and set him/her in the wild, if raised by wolves he/she will act like a wolf, if raised by bears he/she will act like a bear. People grow and learn based on surroundings and what they are taught. Gannibal is one hundred percent proof no matter who you are or where you come from, if given “the” chance, you can make it.
For Peace and Justice,