Fictional use of real character http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/15/Avitabile_portrait.jpg+right
General Paolo Bartolomeo Avitabile (Abu Tabela) (25 October 1791 - 28 March 1850), was a Neapolitan soldier, mercenary and adventurer. A peasant's son born in Agerola, near Amalfi in Italy, he served in the Neapolitan militia during the Napoleonic wars. After Waterloo he drifted east like many other adventurous soldiers. He first served as a mercenary in Persia, before he was hired by the Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Punjab.
Reports of the time show him as a cruel leader, but pleasant company!
"he acts like a savage among savage men, instead of showing them that a Christian can wield the iron sceptre without staining it by needless cruelty"
"He is, moreover, a frank, gay, and good-humoured person, as well as an excellent and skillfull officer."
As one of the few European adventurers in the area, he succeeded in building a fortune and getting away with it. He returned to Naples, where he built a grand home in San Lazzaro (Agerola). He died under suspicious circumstances soon after marrying a local girl. The following legal battle over his inheritance, and the many distant relatives asserting their claims, made Avitabile's cousin something of a byword in Italy.