Rasputin - The Russian 'Mad Monk'


Grigori Rasputin, the "Mad Monk"

You might not know who's Grigori Rasputin, but you would've certainly heard the song - Boney M. - Rasputin. The song tells the story of a Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin.

When the Debauchee's potent digestion resisted liquid poison, Rasputin was induced to eat several pastries containing cyanide of potassium. Expectantly the nobles waited for their victim to collapse, and blanched with fear as the Black Monk, who was believed to possess occult powers, became merely hilarious after absorbing enough poison to kill a healthy elephant.

- "RUSSIA: Debauchee's Daughter", Monday, July 16, 1928 , TIME

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (21 January 1869 – 30 December 1916) was a Russian mystic and self-proclaimed holy man who befriended the family of Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia, and gained considerable influence in late Imperial Russia.

In late 1906, Rasputin began acting as a healer for the imperial couple's only son, Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia. He was a divisive figure at court, seen by some Russians as a mystic, visionary, and prophet, and by others as a religious charlatan. The high point of Rasputin's power was in 1915 when Nicholas II left St. Petersburg to oversee Russian armies fighting World War I, increasing both Alexandra and Rasputin's influence. Russian defeats mounted during the war, however, and both Rasputin and Alexandra became increasingly unpopular. In the early morning of 30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1916, Rasputin was assassinated by a group of conservative noblemen who opposed his influence over Alexandra and Nicholas.


Much of Rasputin's influence with the royal family stemmed from the belief by Alexandra, the tsarina, and others that he had on several occasions eased the pain and stopped the bleeding of tsarevich Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia.The royal family's belief in Rasputin's healing powers brought him considerable status and power at court. The tsar appointed Rasputin his lampadnik (lamplighter), charged with keeping the lamps lit before religious icons in the palace, and this gained him regular access to the palace and royal family.

Rasputin soon became a controversial figure; he was accused by his enemies of religious heresy and rape, was suspected of exerting undue political influence over the tsar, and was even rumored to be having an affair with the tsarina.In 1909 Kehioniya Berlatskaya, who had been one of Rasputin's early supporters in St Petersburg, accused him of rape. She went to Theofan for aid, and the incident helped to convince Theofan that Rasputin was a danger to the monarchy. Rumors multiplied that Rasputin had assaulted female followers and behaved inappropriately on visits to the royal family – and particularly with the Tsar's teenage daughters Olga and Tatyana, rumors reported widely in the press after March 1910

Assasination Attempt & Death

There have been several attempts at Rasputin's life untill it was successful in 1916. A group of nobles led by Prince Felix Yusupov, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, and right-wing politician Vladimir Purishkevich decided that Rasputin's influence over the tsarina threatened the empire, and they concocted a plan in December 1916 to kill him, apparently by luring him to the Yusupovs' Moika Palace. He was murdered on 30 December 1916.

According to historian Douglas Smith, "what really happened at the Yusupov home on 17 December will never be known".

The story that Yusupov recounted in his memoirs, however, has become the most frequently told version of events.Yuspov said he invited Rasputin to his home shortly after midnight and ushered him into his basement. He offered Rasputin tea and cakes which had been laced with cyanide. Rasputin initially refused the cakes but then began to eat them and, to Yusupov's surprise, appeared unaffected by the poison.Rasputin then asked for some Madeira wine (which had also been poisoned) and drank three glasses, but still showed no sign of distress. At around 2:30 am, Yusupov excused himself to go upstairs, where his fellow conspirators were waiting. He took a revolver from Dmitry Pavlovich, then returned to the basement and told Rasputin that he'd "better look at the crucifix and say a prayer", referring to a crucifix in the room, then shot him once in the chest. The conspirators then drove to Rasputin's apartment, with Sukhotin wearing Rasputin's coat and hat in an attempt to make it look as though Rasputin had returned home that night. They then returned to the Moika Palace and Yusupov went back to the basement to ensure that Rasputin was dead. Suddenly, Rasputin leapt up and attacked Yusupov, who freed himself with some effort and fled upstairs. Rasputin followed and made it into the palace's courtyard before being shot by Purishkevich and collapsing into a snowbank. The conspirators then wrapped his body in cloth, drove it to the Petrovsky Bridge, and dropped it into the Malaya Nevka River.

Source : Grigori Rasputin

Pic Credits : Grigori Rasputin, the "Mad Monk" (Wikimedia Commons)

Aseem Shrey

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