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Russia's Mad Monk

Updated on August 10, 2014

Cartoon of Rasputin Teaching the Women at Court

Public Domain photo from Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain photo from Wikimedia Commons

We Must Sin to be Forgiven

The Holy Man, Rasputin, possesses healing powers. He heals the young czarevitch, Alexei, who suffers from hemophilia.

Does he actually possess such power? The Empress Alexandra believes Rasputin has the gift of healing. Her delusion is Rasputin's greatest crime. Nonetheless, Alexei survives under Rasputin's care. And Rasputin becomes a man of tremendous influence in court circles.

Does Rasputin affect the rising forces of social change inside Russia? No, he does not. However, he affects the monarchy's response to the demands of reform. He has considerable affect on the opinions of the highest members of government. Mostly he destroys the reputation of Empress Alexandra's court and even Empress Alexandra herself.

As J.M. Winter states in The Experience of World War I, Rasputin's message to sin in order to be forgiven converts lechery into a pietistic act.

The women in the palace in Saint Petersburg are addicted to him, and the public is aware. Rasputin's name becomes synonymous with the monarchy's lavish spending while the population suffers hunger. Rasputin is considered the reason for the monarchy's nonchalance in the face of revolt. Rasputin is responsible for the monarchy's iron fisted refusal to change or to adapt the slightest reforms.

Rasputin's name is synonymous with a government far more concerned with matters of the occult than with matters of state. So while the public lost faith and respect for their monarch, Czar Nicolas and the Empress Alexandra continued to hold Rasputin in a position of power.

Among the leaders of Russia and members of the court, hostility begins to build toward Rasputin. While men such as Prince Nikita can not obtain an audience with the empress, Rasputin has free access. While leaders become desperate to address the need for reforms, the monarchy turns a deaf ear.

Rasputin holds a large part of the responsibility for this situation because he is the man who is always there, in the palace chambers. Whispers began to circulate that he must be assassinated before it is too late to save the monarchy.

By the end of 1916, the House of Romanov is a house of cards. Czar Nicolas left Petrograd to command his WWI armies which left the empress to govern at home. She opposes all social reform. Her word is law and dissenters are imprisoned.

At the heart of her court stands the mystic, Rasputin. Cartoons in the Russian papers illustrate Rasputin instructing the women at court. More and more he is pictured with a leering expression and the women lay at his feet. Rasputin is depicted whispering into the ear of the czarina.

Living in the past, possessed with the occult, and under the influence of the Mad Monk the monarchy is blind to the growing unrest among the citizens.

The Romanov Family Murdered July, 1918

Public Domain Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

Predictions of Death

Had the Romanov's been merely a family of tremendous wealth who chose to live in the past and believe in a mystic life, the world would not care beyond routine gossip. The fact is the Romanov's rule a huge, powerful and backward nation. The corruption in the House of Romanov affects millions of people.

Had Czar Nicolas recognized the need for reform and moved in that direction as the monarchy did in Britain, the world may not witness the Russian Revolution and the rise of Bolshevism. However, he did not. When reform comes it is far too little, too late.

Rasputin is a symbol of corruption in the highest circles of government. Yet, he does possess magnetic power, perhaps healing power, and a power of prophecy.

Before his murder, Rasputin states in a letter dictated to his secretary and directed primarily to Czar Nicolas: you must know this. if it was your relations who have wrought my death then no one of your family, that is to say, none of your children or relations will remain alive for more than two year.

Rasputin is murdered December 29, 1916 in the basement of the Yussoupov Palace. Czar Nicolas and his entire family are murdered in July, 1918. The family is shot even though the czar abdicated his throne.,

Perhaps he has a feel for the desperation in Saint Petersburg. Perhaps he merely takes the consequences of his actions to the logical and worst conclusion. Perhaps he is a prophet. It is a hundred years since Rasputin whispered in the ear of Czarina Alexandria. To this day no one knows exactly what he said to her, but that he influenced her way of life and the decisions she made is unquestioned.

The Murder of Rasputin

A group of five Russian nobility come to understand that Rasputin is so destroying the monarchy. He must be killed. The initial instigator is Prince Yussoupov. He calls upon four others to help including Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich.

Rasputin is cautious, knowing that his life is in danger. The plot to murder him hinges on Yussoupov being able to bring Rasputin to the cellar of the Moika palace. Rasputin agrees on the midnight party because he enjoyed late hour suppers and because he is told the beautiful wife of one of the conspirators will also be present.

The conspirators fed Rasputin poisoned cake without much affect. Yussoupov then shot him. Rasputin crawled after him. He was shot again, and clubbed. Finally, he was wrapped in blue curtain and bound with rope and pushed through a hole in the ice of the frozen Neva. After poison, gunshots and clubbing, the cause of death is drowning.


Rasputin predicted his own death. He also predicted the murder of the Romanov family.

Even In Death

Rasputin is a healer. He is believed by the czarina to keep her son alive. He is said to heal with his blazing eyes and caressing hands. Rasputin is a Mystic, a holy man. No one to this day understands from where Rasputin achieved his power. The mystery adds to his mystic.

He is a prophet who understands he will be murdered. He knows as well the importance of who murders him. If a member of his own class is the murderer, the czar will live. If a member of the nobility kills him, the czar will die.

He is a man who blesses with one hand and grasps women with the other.

The population in Petrograd rejoice that the beast is slain. The conspirators become heroes. Only the peasants mourn because he was their voice in the palace.

What is his crime? Debauchery? Lasciviousness? Yes, but those crimes do not kill him. Primarily his crime is the delusion of the Empress Alexandra into believing the monarchy would not and should not change.

In the meantime, the empress builds a chapel in his honor and worships at his grave.

Rasputin's Grave at the Chapel of a Veterans' Home Outside of Petrograd

Public Domain Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain Wikimedia Commons


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