the Monk Who Brought Down a Dynasty
unwashed sexually promiscuous peasant helped to bring down the empire
of the Tsars in Russia. In the years before the Russian Revolution,
Rasputin, who styled himself a holy man, became the confidant of
the Tsar and Tsarina of Russia. His growing influence separated
the Tsar from his people - his notorious affairs with aristocratic
women, and rumors that he was having an affair with the Tsarina
herself, convinced many that he was a disgrace to the court, and
Rasputin was an unusual man who appears to have had genuine healing
talents. He came to the attention to Tsar Nicholas II and the Tsarina
Alexandria when he successfully healed the favorite hunting dog
of a member of the royal family. They were interested in his reputation
as a healer, because of the illness of their son Alexis. After
having 5 daughters, Nicholas and his wife had finally had a much
beloved son and heir to the throne. Unfortunately, the young Tsarevich
suffered from hemophilia, a painful malady which usually resulted
in death at a young age at that time. When they heard of Rasputin
the Tsarina called him in to heal the apparently dying Alexis.
After Rasputin laid his hands on the boy, he began to improve and
finally recovered. His influence with the royal family remained
strong after that. In fact his growing influence, and the envy
this caused, led to his death.
to have had some premonitions of his death. There are reports
that when the Tsar departed for the front after being home for
a brief time, he, as usual, asked for the monk's blessing. Rasputin
is reported to have said, "This time it is you who must
bless me." He seems to have put his affairs in order. There is
also a letter from Rasputin in which he predicts disaster for Russia
and for himself: ".My hour will soon come. I have no fear but you
must know that the hour will be bitter. I will suffer a great martyrdom.
I will forgive my torturers and will inherit the kingdom." And
in an interview on the day of his death, he told an acquaintance "Little
mother, I feel my end is near. They'll kill me and then the throne
won't last 3 months."
He was advised
by a friend that there was a plot against his life, and that
he shouldn't go out that night. In spite of all this he went
to the house of his murderer, Prince Yusupov. Yusupov and his
co-conspirators put Cyanide into cream cakes, enough, Yusupov
later said, to kill Rasputin many times over. Although Rasputin
declined the cakes, not caring for sweets, at last he was persuaded
to eat two. There was no visible effect on him. Yusupov suggested
wine, and poured poisoned wine for him. Again, he was reluctant,
but was persuaded. Yusupov was horrified that the poison seemed
to have no effect on him and began to feel desperate. Two hours
later, Rasputin seemed tired but was still very much alive. He
then got his revolver and shot him in the heart. He appeared lifeless
and Yusupov could find no pulse. He said that as he looked at the
corpse, first one eye opened, and then the next. Rasputin leaped
to his feet and attacked Yusupov, attempting to strangle him, all
the while foaming at the mouth. Rasputin then left the house and
was moving across the courtyard, saying that he was going to tell
the Tsarina, when his co-conspirator Purishkevich shot at him,
finally striking him in the back. Rasputin stopped and Purishkevich
fired again, sending him to the ground. He then kicked the corpse
in the temple, leaving a grave wound.
The corpse was brought into the house, and Yusupov lost control,
repeatedly beating Rasputin about the head with a blackjack. There
is some suggestion that the body was sexually abused as well. They
drove the body to a nearby bridge and dumped the body in the water.
The body was eventually found 226 meters downstream where it had
traveled under the ice. The autopsy revealed that he had water
in his lungs, which meant that he was still alive when he went
into the water. A photograph from the autopsy suggests that he
was still trying to free himself from his bonds.
clubbed, drowned - the man who would not die.
Was Rasputin a superhuman with protection from angels or evil forces?
A recent book by Edvard Radzinsky, using previously unavailable
sources from Russia, including autopsy photographs, suggests that
Rasputin was not harder to kill than any other mortal, but that
the assassins were merely incompetent. Yusupov may have embellished
the details later (after the revolution) to cover his bungling
attempt at assassination.
The poor decisions
that were made by the Tsar during the time of Rasputin's influence
and the hatred that his presence inspired in the people probably
contributed significantly to the fall of the Tsar in the last days
of the dynasty. People lost confidence in their ruler at a time
of grave crisis. Russia was fighting in World War I and losing badly.
There were severe shortages of food and supplies at home. As public
confidence lapsed, the revolutionary ideas fermenting in Russia
for 50 years began to come to the surface. Finally, shortly after
Rasputin's death, the Russian Revolution swept away Nicholas and
his family forever.
|Your purchase of books or other items through links on this site helps keep this free educational site on the web.