Benningsen. I. Levin August Theophil, count, a Russian general, born in Brunswick, Feb. 10, 1745, where his father served as colonel in the guards, died Oct. 3, 1826. He was a page at the Hanoverian court of George II., and afterward a captain in the Hanoverian army, resigning his commission to marry the daughter of the Austrian ambassador at Hanover. Having squandered his fortune and lost his wife, he entered the Russian service, and under Catharine II. distinguished himself as a cavalry officer, and was richly rewarded. Disgraced by Paul I., he entered into Count Pahlen's conspiracy, and led the way when the assassins broke into the czar's bedchamber. Paul hid himself in the chimney. Benningsen dragged him down, and when the conspirators hesitated untied his own sash, rushed upon the czar, and with the help of the others succeeded in strangling him. Benningsen expedited the murder by striking Paul on the head with a heavy silver snuff box. From Alexander I. Benningsen received an important military command.
In the war of Russia, Austria, and England against France in 1806, he repulsed Lannes and Berna-dotte at Pultusk, and extricated the Russians from a critical position into which they had been brought by Marshal Kamensky. Soon after he was made commander-in-chief of the army then in the field against Napoleon, and fought the French at Eylau, Feb. 7-8, 1807, but on June 14 he was beaten at Friedland. He was present at the battle of Borodino (1812) as aid to Gen. Kutuzoft. On Oct. 18 of the same year he gained a brilliant advantage by surprise over Murat at Tarutino. He left the service on account of difficulties with Kutuzoff, but reentered it on Kutuzoff's death. He had an important part at the taking of Leipsic, and was in command of the army which was be-sieging Hamburg when Napoleon was overthrown in 1814. After the peace of 1815 the command of the second army, which was stationed in the south of Russia, was given to him. He resigned in 1818, and died poor and blind. II. Alexander Levin, count, a Hanoverian statesman, son of the preceding, born at Zakret, near Wilna, July 21, 1809. He occupied the highest positions in the cabinet and the chambers from 1841 to 1860, when Hanover was annexed to Prussia. III. Rudolf ven, a Hanoverian statesman, belonging to a junior branch of the same family, born in Luneburg, July 20, 1824. After many able but ineffectual attempts, as a member of the chambers and in other capacities, to protect Hanover against the fatal course of George V., he was elected in 18(56, alter the annexation of his country to Prussia, to the North German diet and the Prussian assembly of delegates, and became vice president of these bodies and a statesmanlike leader of the liberal national party.
He has presided since the close of 1868 over the local administration of the province of Hanover, and attended the conferences at Versailles in December, 1870, in respect to the formation of the new German empire.