Debated by historians, conversed through a mixture of speculations and facts, the life of Grigory Yetimovich Rasputin is not only mysterious, but undeniably fascinating. Also known as the Mad Monk for his spiritual beliefs and wild personality, Rasputin made a name for himself through out his whole being. As a young man he made his presence known with his troublemaking, partying, and psychic abilities, as he grew older it was with his magnetism, beliefs and rituals, and some help from the Romanov’s, more specifically Empress Alexandria Romanov.
This ability of making a name for himself through his personality and actions undoubtedly made him the most talked about man in 1900 Russia and made his name famous for many following years. Born sometime between 1869 and 1872 in Pokrovskoye, Siberia, Rasputin grew up as a peasant under the care of his mother and father. As he grew up he gained the reputation as a wild, uneducated, trouble making party animal. He was also known for his so-called psychic abilities. At a young age he identified the man who had stolen a horse from a local villager and through that, he and the victim recovered the missing horse.
Rasputin had claimed that he did not see the crime physically, but eerily knew the criminal with out being a witness. It was also said that the monk could calm spooked animals with just the sound of his voice. Word spread around villages of his incredible talents, though he couldn’t curve his love for trouble. At the age of 28, Grigory found him self in a Siberian monastery for an unknown reason, historians believe stealing was the probable crime. Though he did not realize this at the time, this incident would set the rest of his life.
While in the monastery, Rasputin met a mystic by the name of Malcary who shared his spiritual beliefs and thoughts with him. Rasputin took in the mystic’s teachings and began to study under him. By the time the monk had left the prison, he considered himself a revered holy man with new spiritual beliefs, although his love for partying, women, and alcohol still remained. As a partially changed, free man, Rasputin was ready to spread his word. He set off on a pilgrimage through Europe and Asia sharing his beliefs to the poorest of people, to the richest.
His teachings were based on reaching redemption through sin, although he did not believe in committing all sins. He believed in people using their own bodies as a vessel for sin, rather than victimizing others through sin. As his teachings spread rapidly, the concept of purging sin through practice became a favorite among people, especially with the Russian and female population. Rasputin eagerly encouraged women to sin with him often in order to help them fulfill eventual redemption, although some believe that wasn’t his true intentions.
While he was gaining great recognition with his charm, charisma, and beliefs, the Russian Orthodox Church was losing the faith of their followers because of the corruption and controversy taking place between their priests and their associates. Due to this, the Russian people needed a new spiritual leader and Rasputin became the perfect candidate. The Mad Monk moved to St. Petersburg in 1903, as his popularity was growing fast. He found himself consulted by many people there, from peasants to the aristocracy, for advice as well as being invited to high-class parlors and parties. Two years into his wild stay in St.
Petersburg, Rasputin had the privilege to meet Empress Alexandria Romanov. Being German born, she believed he would be her link to the Russian people despite the fact his reputation was beginning to soil due to his supposed debauched behavior. As their relationship blossomed, she noticed he seemed to cure her only son, Alexis’s hemophilia. Doctors expressed their amazement to the Romanov family and called it a miracle, as they once believed that Alexis would not live passed his teens. Because of this, the royal family kept Rasputin by their side for the next ten years in hopes that he would keep their son alive for him to take the throne.
This was kept a secret from the Russian community, they did not want to threaten their family’s and Raputin’s safety. During those years with the Romanovs, Rasputin’s popularity diminished greatly and the family’s popularity began to as well. The Russian people were growing unhappy with Nicholas’s rule, they were also unhappy because they suspected that Rasputin had gained too much power as well as too much control over the empress. Alexandria was gregarious about her admiration and devotion for the Mad Monk, which sparked worry into the Russian people.
She was also fervent and positive about his powers and wrote intimate letters to him, which he showed to many friends and strangers at some of his shady parties. Some believed these letters were out of her love for their platonic relationship, some think the opposite, but either way in the people’s minds it confirmed their worries and suspicions. Violence shortly ensues. By 1914, Russia was in utter chaos, riots became uncontrollable and tensions between Russia and other countries tightened. World War I was sprouting into the country and Nicolas Romanov had to leave his throne to lead his troops.
Shortly before his departure he announced that Alexandria would be in charge for the time he was gone. Two years dragged by filled with non-stop turmoil. Food and fuel were scarce as well as lost moral due to the men dying in war. The people of Russia grew even more restless and angry and Alexandria wasn’t doing anything for them. Instead she used her rule to show her affection for Rasputin, if an official were to speak out against the monk they would be dismissed or worse. This gave the people of Russia yet another reason to believe that Rasputin was really running the country and eventually put him to blame for everything going wrong.
Due to this, his reputation was completely shattered and he knew it. He would soon prophesy that he would not make it through the year 1916 not knowing that his psychic abilities would be correct once again. Felix Yussopov, the cousin of Nicholas Romanov, saw the unease and worry in Russia’s people’s eyes and a chance for opportunity. Yussopov believed that killing Rasputin would preserve Russia and eventually restore it back to before his so-called “rule”. He knew Rasputin loved women, alcohol and parties and had orchestrated a murder plan around those things.
He invited Rasputin to a party on December 29, 1916 where he promised alcohol, food, and time with his own wife, whom Rasputin had mentioned having a craving for. Rasputin could not refuse the invite. The Mad Monk arrived at the party where he was told that he was the one of the first to arrive and his wife and others would be there shortly. Felix offered him poison laced wine and pastries that he graciously took up. Rasputin had drunk all the wine given to him as well as eating all the pastries, but the poison did not seem to affect him at all. Growing impatient and scared, Felix panicked and shot Rasputin.
Him and his minions then threw the monk’s body outside of the building thinking that their his job was complete. Although they had thought too quickly, the resilient Rasputin was still alive and began to run away, but Felix saw this and ran after him with his men. Being wounded, Rasputin did not get too far and was caught shortly after his amazing escape. He was then beaten, shot multiple times, tied up in thrown in the frozen Neva river. Rasputin’s body was found days later with his hands untied, it appeared as if he was trying to break through the ice to survive. Officials ruled the ultimate cause of death was drowning.
His abilitly to make a name for himself through his peculiar personality and actions, and other means made him popular conversation subject among the people of the 19th century, especially after his death. Many present day historians try studying his life in order to separate fact from fiction and reveal the mysteries in Rasputin’s life, but because there is so many speculations of what the monk did, there is no way of finding out for sure. From his unknown birth date to his psychic abilities to his amazing race with death, the Mad Monk’s life was not only mysterious, but interesting as well.