- Politics and Social Issues
Rasputin--Facts About the Mad Monk of Russia
A Mystic Who Influenced History
Rasputin's Early Years
Born into a peasant family (January 21st, 1869), it is likely that as Rasputin grew, he had little-to-no schooling. It was rumored in his village that he was clairvoyant and possessed supernatural powers.
Possibly influenced by his father who was an Orthodox Christian, Rasputin had plans to become a monk but this fell by the wayside when he got married at 19. That union produced three living children. He couldn't seem to settle, and he left his family and wandered, going as far as Greece and making pilgrimages to the Holy Land.
In 1892 he disappeared and ended up living in a monastery.
He returned to his family, a convert, having given up tobacco, alcohol, and meat. His children, it is reported, dreaded the long hours of prayer and fasting expected of them.
Rasputin claimed to have had a vision of Our Lady of Kazan or Mother Mary and he turned towards the life of a religious mystic. By 1900, Rasputin became a religious wanderer, visiting holy places on foot and exchanging his teaching for hospitality. He alternated between this and going home to help his family for sowing and the harvest.
Rasputin's Birthplace--Village of Pokrovskoe on the Tura River
A Man Conflicted
Rasputin seemed torn between family obligation, faith, and a free spirit.
Rasputin With His Children
Rasputin Helps a Hemophiliac
Having impressed the Russian archbishop of Poltava, the Grand Duchess of Montenegro, and Princess Anastasia, In 1905, the Grand Duchess introduced Rasputin to the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, and Tsarina Alexandra.
In 1906, Rasputin was invited by the Tsar to visit Alexei, the son of Nicholas II and Alexandra. The young child, who had hemophilia B, was bleeding profusely, and the forecast was grim. The doctors were certain, in fact, that Alexei would not survive.
Rasputin stopped the aspirin prescribed by the doctors and prayed for the boy's recovery, and almost miraculously, Alexei improved. This act solidified the Tsar’s faith in the spiritual healer and his powers.
He Was Known to Have Piercing, Almost Mesmerizing Eyes
Did Rasputin Have Second Sight?
Enemies Try to Weaken Rasputin's Alliance with the Romanovs
Rasputin's popularity with the royal family did not go unnoticed and enemies sought to weaken the alliance. By 1907, efforts were made to discredit the intuitive healer and he was accused of being a womanizer. Because these allegations could not be proved, the case was unresolved.
Soon after, former friends accused him of having an affair with the Tsarina. These former friends produced letters purportedly written by Alexandra and her daughters but these troublemakers were dismissed because the Tsar had complete trust and faith in Rasputin.
Further efforts to weaken the alliance came to nothing.
Influence on Russian Politics
By 1914, Rasputin, possibly as his former enemies had feared, began influencing Russian politics. The Tsar and Tsarina trustingly accepted his suggestions.
He suggested that World War I would prove to be catastrophic for Russia, that it would be advisable to try to make peace with the Germans. Unfortunately, this was one suggestion that the Tsar did not heed and it ultimately cost him his empire.
He also became became influential in Saint Petersburg, especially after August 1915 when Nicholas took command of the army fighting in World War I. Rasputin advised his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, in spiritual and political issues, and became a further target for Russian nationalists, liberals and aristocrats.
While it is uncertain as to just how much influence Rasputin wielded over the Tsar and Tsarina, in opposers' minds, his influence was considerable. His close ties with the Tsar and Tsarina played a significant role in the increasing unpopularity of the Imperial couple and ultimately altered the course of history.
Where Rasputin Was Murdered
Murder and Death
It should come as no surprise that as his hold strengthened on the Tsar, other parties would view him as a greater threat.
In 1914, a masked woman attempted to assassinate Rasputin. He survived after a doctor performed surgery to save his life.
In 1916, a later attempt by different parties proved successful. Saint Iliodor and statesman Vladimir Dzhunkovsky admitted to having planned the murder of Rasputin and Prince Felix Yusupov, (husband of the Tsar's only niece), invited Rasputin to his palace. When the healer arrived there, he was murdered by Yusupov, who, it is believed, poisoned and then shot Rasputin, then threw his body in the river.
Facts About Rasputin
Known as the Mad Monk, Rasputin reportedly had special healing powers. He influenced kings and charmed women, becoming one of the most powerful men in Russia.
- Grigory Efimovich Rasputin was born of Russian peasants in Siberia in 1869.
- Rasputin wandered all over Russia and made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem two times, before becoming a monk.
- Rasputin was welcomed at the religious Academy of St. Petersburg and soon became a favorite.
- Rasputin was recommended to the royal family and was viewed by them as a man of God.
- Empress Alexandra's son, Alexei suffered from hemophilia. Rasputin gained Alexandra's trust by healing her son. It is purported that the presence of Rasputin by the boy's side caused Alexei's internal bleeding to cease.
- Interestingly, Rasputin abhorred the Russian nobility and viewed them as another race. He spoke to them as he would to peasants.
- Grigory Rasputin's entry into the Romanov's inner circle may have been partly credited to his mystical powers. Some believed he used his powers to gain favor with the Tsar and Tsarina.
- With the Tsar's absence, Rasputin gained prominence, which alarmed the nobles who may have considered him unkempt, ill educated, and wily.
- Concerns elevated when ministers of the government were fired and replaced with supporters of Rasputin.
- Certain members of the Romanov family decided to take matters in hand and a plot was formed to strike against Rasputin.
- Rasputin the Mad Monk, prophesied his own death and said that if it were caused by the nobles, within two years the royal family would be no more.
- Rasputin was like a cat with nine lives, escaping death repeatedly.
- A poisoning attempt using cyanide left him unscathed. He was then shot, more than once, but still he lived on.
- Rasputin was beaten, tied, and thrown into the Neva River, where he finally succumbed, Dec 31, 1916.
- Seven months later, Rasputin's prophecy came true. Bolshevik revolutionaries killed the royal family.
Rasputin left an indelible mark on history, whether rogue, prophet, monk, or madman.
A Colorful Figure
Rasputin lived a controversial life and one riddled with contradictions: a liver in monasteries and a wanderer, an early aesthetic and wild drinker and reveler, a man with religious leanings and psychic ability, a holy man and a womanizer, despising royalty and yet close friends with the Romanovs. He seemingly had nine lives and survived numerous murder attempts. Even in death he was larger than life, and it took great effort to snuff out his life force.
Further Reading About Rasputin:
- The Minister of Evil: The Secret History of Rasputin's Betrayal of Russia
- Rasputin and the Russian Revolution
- Rasputin: the Saint Who Sinned
- Grigory Rasputin: Holy Man or Mad Monk?
- Rasputin's Daughter
- To Kill Rasputin: the Life and Death of Grigory Rasputin
- Rasputin and the Jews: A Reversal of History
- Lost Splendor: The Amazing Memoirs of the Man Who Killed Rasputin
- The Murder of Rasputin: the Truth About Prince Felix Youssoupov and the Mad Monk Who Helped Bring Down the Romanovs
A Man of Mystery
Rasputin is an interesting historical figure, a complex character with intriguing abilities. Was he good or was he evil? Both his life and death raise interesting and unanswered questions.
© 2011 Athlyn Green