Have you heard about Ra-Ra-Rasputin…?
Anyone who has studied Russian history has likely been captivated by the mysterious figure that greatly influenced the last tsar and his entire family. This man, known as Rasputin, is one of the most talked about figures in Russian history, but does he really deserve all of the attention?
Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin spent his childhood as a peasant in Siberia, and eventually grew up to be a religious mystic. He identified as a “strannick”, or a religious wanderer, and became well known as a healer. In 1907 at Tsar Nicholas II’s request, Rasputin visited the tsar’s home in order to heal his son, Alexei. Alexei suffered from hemophilia and had seriously injured himself, to the point where their doctor said he would not survive the blood loss. Rasputin helped to heal the tsarevich through prayer, which pleased the highly religious Nicholas and Alexandra. Later investigation gives credit to Rasputin’s order to stop giving Alexei aspirin, which thins the blood and exacerbates hemophilia.
Due to the power that Nicholas and Alexandra believed Rasputin to have, he had the ability to greatly influence the tsar. He became powerful in both the court and the church, although his influence was highly controversial. Nicholas’s relationship with Rasputin turned many important political figures against him, to the point where his place on the throne was threatened.
In 1916 Rasputin was invited to a dinner party at Yusupov Palace, where many important political figures were to attend. The task at the dinner was to kill Rasputin by poisoning his food. The legend goes that the food was poisoned with cyanide, yet he made it through the meal, and an impatient guest stabbed him multiple times. Rasputin still did not die, so Yusupov shot him and brought him upstairs. Later it was found that he was still alive, so they wrapped his body, still alive, in a carpet and threw him into the river next to the palace. His body was found days later, and it was determined that he died due to drowning.
Today you can still visit the palace where all of this took place! The Yusupov palace is located in St.Petersburg and offers tours. Visit their website here.
Also, here is a song about him.
This post was brought to you by Allison, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz