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Fatal Duel

On this day in 1837 the greatest Russian poet Alexander Pushkin died tragically. He was fatally wounded in a duel with Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d’Anthes, a French officer in the service of the Russian empress. It’s believed that d’Anthes attempted to seduce the poet’s wife, Natalia.

The conflict between Pushkin and d’Anthes began when Pushkin faced scandalous rumors that his wife was having a love affair with d’Anthes. Furious Pushkin sent him a challenge to a duel. Shortly after the duel was cancelled because d’Anthes made a proposal to Natalia’s sister – Ekaterina Goncharova. But this marriage did not resolve the conflict. Georges d’Anthes continued to pursue Natalia Pushkina in public. Rumors that d’Anthes had married Natalia’s sister just to save her reputation circulated. Finally, Pushkin sent a highly insulting letter to step-father of d’Anthes – Jacob Heeckeren. As Pushkin knew, the only answer to that letter could be a challenge to a duel.

The duel took place on the 8th of February in the suburbs of Saint-Petersburg at the Black River. D’Anthes fired first. He critically wounded Pushkin. The bullet entered Pushkin’s hip and penetrated his abdomen. Pushkin managed to rise and make a shot, but only lightly wounded d’Anthes in the right arm. Two days later Pushkin died of peritonitis. The funeral service in Saint-Petersburg was attended by thousands of people.

«Pushkin is our everything»

Alexander Pushkin made a huge contribution to Russian culture  ……….


He is rightly considered to be the founder of the modern Russian language. He rejected the high style of classic Russian poetry and broke down the barrier between colloquial speech and the elevated odes of the past.

Pushkin had an unbelievably broad outlook as a writer. He wrote classical odes, romantic poems, love and political verse, novels in verse, historical drama, realist prose, short stories, fairy tales, travel journals and much more.

He identified the main themes that Russian writers used during the 19th century. The subjects first raised by Pushkin became central ideas in works by other great Russian authors such as Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov.

Pushkin’s works are easy to remember. He had the ability to create vivid images with just two or three words, imprinting them in the reader’s mind. His poems are known to many Russians by heart.

Ethiopian descent

Pushkin’s contribution to Russian culture is difficult to overestimate. But his personality is no less interesting.

Pushkin understood more than ten languages. There were over 4500 books in 14 languages in his library in Saint-Petersburg’s apartment.

He was a gambler. Pushkin loved playing cards, though he was not particularly successful. When the fatal duel ended his life, he died with a substantial debt unpaid. Tsar Nicholas I ordered to pay poet’s debt from the country’s treasury.

Pushkin had a taste for duels. Throughout his life he took part in 24 duels and initiated 15 of them.

Pushkin belonged to Russian noble family but he also had African roots. His great-grandfather was the son of an African prince, who served under Russia’s first Emperor Peter the Great. Though Pushkin had never been to Africa, a monument in his honor had was erected in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, with the inscription “to our poet”.

Pushkin had four children from his marriage to Natalia. Descendants of the poet now live around the globe in the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the United States.

памятник Пушкину в Эфиопии «Портрет А. С. Пушкина» — картина художника Ореста Кипренского Дантес. Литография с портрета Дуэль Пушкина. А.В.Волков Наталья Пушкина (Гончарова). А.Брюллов Смерть Пушкина. Д.Белюкин