Grigori Rasputin: The Mad Monk of Russia

Stories of mind control, hidden cults, prophecy, and murder all surround Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, the infamous advisor to Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. The story of Rasputin’s life and tragic death is one worth telling.

The Siberian-born went from a poor peasant to an influential mystic and self-proclaimed holy man. For quite sometime, he had many members of the Russian royal family, especially Empress Alexandra, wrapped around his finger. This saw him wield significant power in late Imperial Russia.

His critics, which included many Russian politicians, especially far-right politician Vladimir Purishkevich, at the time, described him as “The mad Monk” and “The Anti-Christ”. To some, he was seen as “The Devil’s Incarnate”.

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Grigori Rasputin, a Russian mystic, gained influence over the Romanovs, the last imperial rulers of Russia, due to his perceived healing abilities. His controversial role in politics and eventual assassination left a lasting legacy. Rasputin’s life has been a subject of fascination in books, films, and other forms of media. He is often depicted as an enigmatic and charismatic figure.

A humble beginning but very erratic youth

In 1869, Grigori Rasputin was born into a humble home in Pokrovskoye, Siberia, to his father, Yefim, and mother, Anna Parshukova.

His family was a peasant family who made a living from farming alongside his father’s job as a government courier.

Most people are surprised to learn that Grigori was probably illiterate until his later years. Peasant families were not always well educated.

In his youth, Rasputin was no stranger to petty crime, gaining infamy as a mischievous young man.

It’s said that Grigori’s transition occurred when he was inspired to embark on a spiritual journey at the age of 28 in 1897. He made a pilgrimage to St. Nicholas Monastery in Verkhoturye, where he worked closely with elder Makary.

At the monastery, he learned to read and write. He was also tutored on many religious doctrines. Grigori was at the Monastery for several months and continued his lessons in the ministry.

He was a different man when he returned home, appearing disheveled and unkempt. For years, he journeyed as a Strannik, or “holy wanderer,” amassing a tiny band of devoted followers.

Rasputin with Makary and Bishop Theofan in 1909

Rasputin’s involvement with the Khlysty

Rasputin turned his family’s cellar into a makeshift church while still living at home with his parents in the early 1900s. His acolytes would assemble there to worship, sing weird songs, and even indulge in sexual activities and orgies.

According to one story, Rasputin had begun to follow the Russian Orthodox Church’s fringe sect, Khlysty. The name Khlysty is derived from the word “Khlyst,” which translates to “whip” in Russian.

Instead of worshipping and conversing with the Holy Spirit through priests and holy writings, Khlysts believed that people may communicate directly with a higher power. Each Khlysty Ark is led by a man and a woman who are physical representations of both Christ and the “Mother of God”.

They regularly flogged themselves in pursuit of religious discipline and the search for divine grace through sinful means such as sexual orgies. This organization was frequently persecuted and widely condemned by church authorities.

In his later years, Rasputin appears to have continued these practices with his followers and even his wife.

Also, many women accused him of rape and assault as he attempted to obtain redemption in the eyes of the Holy Spirit through sin.

His mysterious aura could have been influenced by his use of Tantra. The self-proclaimed prophet believed that Tantra was sexual energy used to align with the divine that can be misused when combined with desire. Some of his critics stated that this practice caused the devil himself to take up residence in the person, resulting in a split personality, one of which would cause harm to others. This was believed to be how Rasputin gained his power.

Time in St. Petersburg and his rise to power

Rasputin’s actual reputation and power emanated from his charisma and influence. He became a household name in monastic circles in the early 1900s as a spiritual man endowed with extraordinary talents. Some of his followers believed that he could heal sick horses by touching them, while his critics rejected him as an agent of the devil.

Believing that he had received instructions from the Virgin Mary to help the Russian royal family, Rasputin traveled to St. Petersburg. There, he used his charisma and wiggled himself into the lives of numerous Russian court executives and aristocracy members.

Grigori Rasputin’s influence on Tsarina Alexandra, the wife of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, was profound and controversial. Alexandra and Rasputin’s relationship began when Rasputin was introduced as a healer who could potentially help their hemophiliac son, Alexei. Image: Alexandra Feodorovna with her children, Rasputin and the nurse Maria Ivanova Vishnyakova, 1908

Ultimately, he would meet Czar Nicholas II in 1905, and Rasputin’s power over the royal family grew from there. Nicholas II and his wife Tsarina Alexandra regarded him as a spiritual guide, healer, and political advisor.

His close relationship with the Tsar’s wife was cemented when he healed her sick son, Alexei, in 1907. The Russian prince and heir to the throne was suffering from hemophilia, a condition that causes thinning of the blood and the inability of the blood to clot.

Grigori Rasputin, a key figure in the late Russian Empire, gained notoriety for his influence, extravagant lifestyle, and scandalous love affairs that made headlines worldwide. Image: Rasputin and his followers

According to one account, in the summer of 1912, Rasputin was asked to help Alexei recover from internal bleeding that could have been fatal. Alexei recovered completely two days later, giving Rasputin complete control over Alexandra. Experts claim that Rasputin was able to make the prince’s situation better by removing aspirin from the prince’s treatment. Aspirin has scientifically been proven to thin the blood, meaning the medicine is bad for people that suffer from hemophilia.

Rasputin’s influence on Tsarina Alexandra was primarily rooted in his perceived ability to alleviate her son’s health issues. However, this influence extended to matters of state and politics, which ultimately had a detrimental effect on the reputation and stability of the Russian monarchy, contributing to its eventual downfall during the Russian Revolution of 1917. Image: Czar Nicholas II’s wife and children

His steady decline in power

Rasputin rose to prominence and power due to the Imperial Family’s faith in his healing abilities. By December 1906, Rasputin fully utilized his position, collecting money and sexual favors from his admirers and working tirelessly to enhance his authority. This infuriated the Russian Court elites, who saw him as eccentric and immoral. These were widely publicized in newspapers, detailing his numerous poor habits with women, alcohol, and bribes, which further inflamed the hate towards him.

In 1907, the local clergy in Pokrovskoye accused Rasputin of being a heretic. The Bishop of Tobolsk also initiated an investigation into his actions, accusing him of disseminating false, Khlyst-like ideas. What made matters worse was Rasputin’s meddling during World War I. His advice made Russia’s economy decline rapidly.

Tsar Nicholas II’s wife, Tsarina Alexandra

Assassination Attempts

After Rasputin’s meeting with the Tsar in 1905, he gained his trust and admiration. However, Rasputin sensed a chance to seize complete control of the nobility and government while the Tsar was away leading Russian troops during World War I.

The charlatan monk’s influence rose to its full potential, with Alexandra fully engaged in his mission. He was soon able to appoint handpicked personnel who shared his beliefs, and respect for the royal family diminished due to these actions.

Rasputin’s influence on Russia earned him many adversaries whose purpose was to depose him from power. In 1914, a peasant lady named Chionya Guseva attempted to assassinate Rasputin by stabbing him in the stomach outside his home in Pokrovskoye. Despite being gravely injured, Rasputin lived.

Other attempts were made to kill Rasputin, but all proved futile; and with time, people started to believe the man was the devil himself.

The death of Rasputin

1916 saw a group of conspirators, including the Tsar’s first cousin, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, and Prince Felix Yusupov, invite Rasputin to Yusupov’s residence. His hosts served him cyanide-laced wine and pastries.

 

The men who killed Grigori Rasputin were a group of Russian nobles and aristocrats who opposed his influence over the Romanovs and were alarmed by his behavior and power. The most prominent figures involved in his assassination included Prince Felix Yusupov, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, and other conspirators. Image: Felix Yusupov, husband of Princess Irina Aleksandrovna Romanova, the Tsar’s niece, 1914

Though Rasputin eventually became exceedingly drunk, the poison did not affect him. The conspirators, shocked yet undeterred, eventually shot Rasputin severally.

After a lot of struggles from the monk, what finally killed him was a shot to his head. His assassins then wrapped his body in a carpet and tossed it into the Little Nevka (Russian: Ма́лая Не́вка) River, where he was discovered three days later.

The Little Nevka (or Malaya Nevka) where Rasputin’s body was thrown into

Personal Life of the Mad Monk

Rasputin met a peasant girl named Praskovya Dubrovina. They married in February 1887, after a lengthy romance. Praskovya remained at Pokrovskoye throughout Rasputin’s trips and rise to notoriety and remained faithful to him until his death. The couple had seven children, but only three lived to adulthood.

His message from the grave

Although Rasputin had died, the last of his prophecies were yet to be fulfilled. Shortly before his death, he wrote to Nicholas, predicting that the Russian people would assassinate the entire royal family if he was killed by government officials. His prediction came true 15 months later, when the Tsar, his wife, and all of their children were assassinated during the Russian Revolution. This brought to an end the Romanov dynasty, a house that had ruled Russia for about three centuries.

Frequently asked questions about Grigori Rasputin

These questions provide an overview of the intriguing life and impact of Grigori Rasputin, a figure whose influence on the Russian royal family and the course of history remains a topic of historical interest and debate.

Grigori Rasputin was a Russian mystic and confidant of the Romanov family, the last imperial rulers of Russia.

What was Rasputin’s influence on the Romanovs?

Rasputin’s influence on the Romanovs was significant. He was seen as a healer who could help their hemophiliac son, Alexei, and he gained considerable sway over Tsarina Alexandra.

How did Rasputin gain access to the Romanovs?

Rasputin gained access to the Romanovs through his reputation as a spiritual healer. He was introduced to them as a potential cure for Alexei’s illness.

Rasputin was believed to have the ability to alleviate the suffering of Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia, a life-threatening condition that impairs blood clotting. Rasputin’s supposed successes in calming the young heir’s bleeding episodes gained him the trust of Alexandra. Image: Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsesarevich of Russia

How close was Rasputin to Tsarina Alexandra?

Rasputin became a close friend and confidant of Alexandra. She saw him as a spiritual advisor who could provide guidance on family matters and political decisions. She corresponded with him extensively, seeking his counsel on various issues.

His proximity to the Romanov family allowed him to wield political influence. He recommended and influenced the appointment and dismissal of government officials, leading to charges of corruption and nepotism.

Rasputin’s unorthodox behavior, alleged debauchery, and undue political influence made him deeply unpopular among the Russian nobility, leading to widespread scandal. His actions were seen as undermining the credibility of the monarchy.

Russian Czar Nicholas II’s family

What role did Rasputin play in Russian politics?

Rasputin’s influence extended to politics as he appointed and dismissed government officials. His perceived interference in political matters caused widespread discontent.

Growing concerns among the Russian nobility and Orthodox Church about Rasputin’s rising influence led to a determined effort to remove him by any means necessary, culminating in his assassination. Image: Caricature of Rasputin and the imperial couple, 1916

Why was Rasputin assassinated?

A group of nobles, alarmed by Rasputin’s influence and behavior, conspired to assassinate him. They believed his death would protect the monarchy from further scandal.

How was Rasputin killed?

Rasputin was poisoned, shot multiple times, and eventually drowned in the Neva River in December 1916. The circumstances surrounding his death are the subject of numerous legends and speculation.

Who were the men who killed Rasputin?

The men who killed Grigori Rasputin were a group of Russian nobles and aristocrats who opposed his influence over the Romanovs and were alarmed by his behavior and power. The most prominent figures involved in his assassination included Prince Felix Yusupov, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, and other conspirators.

Where exactly was he killed?

The room where Grigori Rasputin was killed is known as the Moika Palace or Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. The palace belonged to Prince Felix Yusupov, one of the conspirators involved in Rasputin’s assassination.

The actual murder took place in the basement of the palace, in a room where Rasputin was lured under the pretense of meeting with Yusupov’s wife, Princess Irina Yusupova.

The room has become infamous due to the events that transpired there on the night of December 30-31, 1916. It was in this basement room that Rasputin was initially poisoned, shot, and eventually drowned in the Neva River, marking the end of his controversial life and influence over the Romanovs.

Today, the Moika Palace is a museum open to the public, and visitors can see the room where Rasputin met his demise as part of its historical exhibits.

The place where Rasputin was murdered

Did Rasputin’s death lead to the downfall of the Romanovs?

While Rasputin’s death did not directly lead to the fall of the Romanov dynasty, it was emblematic of the corruption and instability that plagued the Russian monarchy, contributing to the Russian Revolution in 1917.

What is the legacy of Grigori Rasputin?

Rasputin remains a controversial figure in Russian history. Some view him as a holy man with mystical abilities, while others see him as a symbol of the corruption and decadence of the Russian aristocracy.

Are there any surviving descendants of Rasputin?

While Rasputin had children, there are no known direct descendants with a claim to his legacy.

Children of Grigori Rasputin

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