Captured in Africa at the age of eight and sold to a Russian nobleman in Constantinople, Abram Hannibal was given as a slave to Czar Peter the Great of Russia. Hannibal was born as the son of the reigning African prince in the Eritrean highland. Peter the Great of Russia grew very fond of the young slave, who quickly became a favorite of his court. The young black captive was then taken to the Russian Orthodox Church, where he was baptized as Abram Hannibal.
After Hannibal completed his schooling in 1716, the Czar sent him to Paris to study military engineering in order to eventually join the Czar’s army. In Paris, Hannibal repeated his earlier social success by becoming a preferred intimate of the Duc d’Orleans, the Regent.
During that time, he joined the French Army as a Commander, taking part in the Spanish war of the Czar’s Guard as an engineer lieutenant. Peter died in 1725 and Hannibal was immediately banished to Siberia. While in Siberia, he built the fortress of Selenchinsk, escaping only to be recaptured and returned to exile.
In 1741, a new ruler came to power, and Hannibal was restored to honor in the army and quickly rose to the rank of General. Hannibal illegally married a German girl, the daughter of a German officer, and together they had 11 children. In 1799, their granddaughter Nadezhda gave birth to Alexander Pushkin, a poet who became the father of modern Russian literature. Unfortunately, Pushkin never had the chance of meeting his grandfather. Hannibal died in 1762.