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Who Was Rasputin?

Updated on May 14, 2017

Grigori Rasputin is regarded as one of the most perplexing historical figures in modern history. His nature has been a controversial topic in the past century as it is debatable whether he was a man of man of God or a devil worshiper who manipulated his way into the Romanov's good graces. Rasputin, the ‘mad monk’ was born into a peasant family in Siberia, Russia in 1869 to Efim Yakovlevich and Vasilevna Rasputina. He was the only child of the couple who survived to adulthood due to the fact before his birth, four children had died. At a young age Rasputina passed away and Yakovlevich was imprisoned.

The same fate met Rasputin at sixteen when he was arrested for the charges of theft. The citizens of Pokrovskoe urged authorities to excommunicate and exile him, which resulted in him to be sentenced to three months in prison and serve time in the Verkhoturye Monastery in Siberia. Allegedly the Makarov cured him of his severe sleep disorder and trained him to practice hypnotism and a vegetarian lifestyle. This lead to alcohol and drug addictions since the substances were used for ‘spiritual transformation’, in accordance with Ancient Shamanic rituals.

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After he was released, he returned to Pokrovskoye and on January 10, 1869, and married Proskovia Fyondronvia. Consequently, he had two girls and a boy with her before he travelled as a pilgrim around Russia. He illegally claimed that he was a straight (a holy man born) with healing abilities and the ability to predict the future. It was during this journey he travelled to Petrograd (St Petersburg) in 1905 and met the Romanovs in 1908 who sought help for their son, Alexis who suffered from haemophilia. Claiming he could help the family he proved that he had healing abilities through ‘curing’ Alexis from his disease. The family hired him as their mystic adviser and grew to adore him.

Specifically, Tsarina Alexandra admired him due to his prophetic abilities and took his word over Alexis’ physician. He aggravated the Russian public for three main reasons; he was a peasant and was allowed access to and influenced the Romanovs, he illegally claimed he was a man of God and he was promiscuous. Due to this rumours grew that he was sleeping with the Tsarina and was seen as a ‘dark force’ that was ruining Mother Russia.

In 1906 and 1914, numerous politicians and journalists used Rasputin’s reputation as to undermine the royal family’s credibility and push for a reform and by 1911 he had become the national scandal. In 1914 Rasputin entered the court of Tsar Nicholas and those in the Russian public began to conspire against him as this only helped the urge for a reform. His influence on the Romanov family was emphasised through propaganda;

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Whilst visiting a church in Tobolsk in 1914, he was stabbed by his former prostitute- friend, Khionia Guesva who was convinced he was the anti-Christ. During recovery, he had predicted that calamity would befall Russia when it entered World War one, and through letters, he made the Tsar known of his premonitions. Despite this Tsar Nicholas took command of the Russian Army in 1915, leaving Alexandra in charge of domestic policies. However due to the lingering pain that Rasputin had in regard to the stabbing he engaged in drunken behaviour and his promiscuous behaviour grew worse. In 1915 his influence on Alexandra leads to the sacking of five politicians. Citizens of Russia began to blame Rasputin for the issues within Russia, mainly due to the fact the Tsarina would profusely defend Rasputin, making them believe that he had her under a spell.

Postcards from the Past: Grigori Rasputin. Russia. 1917
Postcards from the Past: Grigori Rasputin. Russia. 1917 | Source

The members of the aristocracy made an attempt to assassinate Rasputin on the 16-17th of December 1916. Prince Felix Yusupov, a minor royal conspired to kill Rasputin as a means to protect the Romanovs but however, other sources claim that it was due to the fact Rasputin refused his sexual advances because he was straight. He was lured to Yusupov’s Petrograd’s palace and was given cyanide induced wine and cakes in an attempt to assassinate him. However, this failed to him and, nonetheless, the prince grew desperate and attempted to murder him again. He shot him in the heart with his revolver and found no pulse. He stood over the body, relieved that he had put an end to Rasputin, but however, he woke up and attempted to strangle the prince. The prince escaped and Rasputin ran to tell the Tsarina of the attempt on his life, however, his conspirators caught up to him and shot him multiple times and beaten him. There was also an indication of sexual abuse inflicted on his body. His corpse was found 226 meters downstream underneath ice in the Neva River. According to autopsy results, there was water in his lungs, indicating that he was alive when he was thrown into the river and attempted to free himself from his bonds.

The Most Evil Men and Women in History - Episode Eleven - Rasputin (2002) (380p)

Why did Rasputin Choose to be a Religious Figure?

Due to the fact Rasputin spent time in a monastery, it was clear that it influenced his decision to proclaim himself as an Orthodox Christian mystic. Since he had claimed to have a vision of the Virgin Mary and a ‘spiritual transformation’ at eighteen, it is plausible that he wanted to express his faith. However, there had been sources that claimed that he used his ‘profession’ to lure women and befriend religious figures such as Father Petyr before tarnishing their reputation. It is also evident that he used his profession to gain a higher position within Russian society and use it for shelter under Father Sergiy in St Petersburg. He used his position to gain a letter of recommendation from the local priest if Kazan to work in the Russian capital, Petrograd. Afterwards, he used his position to get into the Romanovs’ good graces through healing Alexis from his disease.Therefore it is clear that he had chosen his particular profession due to the monastery's influence and to reap the benefits that came with the position.

The True Story of Rasputin (Full Documentary)

What Was Rasputin's Intentions?

It is unclear how in which Rasputin’s intentions evolved as he may have wanted to manipulate the Romanovs at first. Despite the fact he may have manipulated his way into the good graces of the Romanovs, he had also attempted to persuade Tsar Nicholas to withdraw Russia from the first world war. If he had fully intended to manipulate the Romanovs, he would not have have attempted to warn Nicholas II away from the war as it would have paved way to influence the Tsarina’s position over Russia. But through his attempt to evade the First World War it is plausible to state that he may have grown accustomed to the family. However, he may have wanted Tsar Nicholas to not participate since he predicted the loss and didn't want him to lose his position as Tsar since then he would have lost his connection with the royal family. On numerous occasion, he had spoken up against anti-Semitism which also infuriated the Russian public.

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