Abram Petrovich Gannibal Haiku

To Siberia

Exiled; how does one not freeze?

Let’s build a fortress.

Abram Petrovich Gannibal (1696-1781) was the great grandfather of famed Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and had a pretty damned storied life himself.

The boy who would be Abram was probably born in Eritrea, although there’s debate about this. His father, a wealthy man, died fighting the Turks and he (one of his many children) was captured and enslaved.

After spending some time in Sultan Ahmed III’s domicile, he was bought by the Russian ambassador to give to Peter the Great. (Wouldn’t he fit nicely with Peter’s collection of giants, dwarves, and his other, incredibly exotic, Africans?) Peter thought his new acquisition was great and wonderful and smart and decided to make him his godson. And thus the name.

Then he sent him to France to learn all about engineering, science, languages, you name it. Abram then joined the French military to learn all about fighting too (and acquitted himself very well) and palled around with Voltaire. If you’re wondering why a Russian emperor would make a slave his godson and educate the hell out of him, remember that this was the same dude who made a Latvian washerwoman his Empress and heir.

He went back to Russia, but Peter soon died. Menshikov, Peter’s old bud and well-known dick, got Abram exiled to Siberia. There he occupied himself building a fortress and lots of other stuff, because what else are you going to do there. He did get pardoned and when Peter’s daughter became Empress Elisabeth, his star rose higher. Elisabeth ennobled him, made him major-general, and gave him a fancy estate (complete with hundreds of of serfs.)

He was married twice, first to Evdokia Dioper, who hated his guts. They split after she gave birth to a very pale baby. He married wife #2, Christina Regina Siöberg, before bothering with a divorce. They did eventually make everything legally square, had a whopping ten children, and died in the same year.

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