Hanibal [1697- 1761] was probably the most outstanding African in Europe in the 18th Century, his rags to riches life, and the fact that he was the great grandfather of Russia's greatest writer, Alexander Pushkin, makes him of even greater interest. Now finally appearing in English, this was the book, based on original research, which proved fairly conclusively that Hanibal (sometimes spelt Gannibal in English) was born in Logone-Birni, in present day Cameroon rather than, as was supposed, in Ethiopia. This book recounts his life story: he was taken as a slave to Istanbul and then to Russia at the age of 8. Tsar Peter the Great and adopted educated him. He was sent to study mathematics and military engineering in France, where he joined the French army fighting against Spain and was promoted to the rank of captain. Back in Russia: he was promoted but was briefly exiled to Siberia where he designed fortresses on the frontier. His first marriage was a disaster but he went on to marry a Swedish aristocrat with whom he had seven children, one of whom, Osip, was to be the grandfather of Pushkin.
There were moments in his life when he suffered for being black, yet he ended his life as a pillar of the Russian aristocracy, even owning serfs. Hanibal's contribution to the technical advancement of the Russian army was huge. He was commander-in-chief, director of fortifications and head of the engineering corps. In 1725-26 he published an important text book on geometry and fortification for engineering students and he introduced the study of civil engineering into the Russian schools of military engineering.
Dieudonne Gnammankou is an historian of the African Diaspora and a Slavist scholar. His research on Pushkin and Hanibal, received international acclaim and "ushered a new era in the study of Pushkin's African ancestry" in Russia and elsewhere.
Chapters include: From Logone to Constantinople; The Tsar's African godson: In France; Return to Russia; Exile in Siberia; The first marriage; Major General and Statesman; Chief Engineer; The Black Lord. (Plus copious notes and appendices).