’s Life And Revelance To The Downfall Of The Romanovs Essay, Research Paper
Gregory Efimovich Rasputin is one of the most debated characters of the 20th Century. Thousands have discussed whether Rasputin was a holy man who came to the aide of the royal family or more simply, a cheat who thrived in womanising and in truth, a man who had a debauched sexual appetite. After all the word Rasputin in Russian mean the debauched one . But in the following pages, I will try to explore a better side of Rasputin; I will attempt to give an accurate analysis of Rasputin and let the facts prove who Rasputin was.
On 10 January 1869, in the midst of a harsh winter, Gregory Efimovich Rasputin was born in the Siberian village of Pokrovskoye. Little is known of his background. His father, Efimy, was a farmer of moderate success, married to a wife, Anna, who had already provided him with an older son, Dimitri. Although later enemies were to allege that Rasputin’s surname was in fact an insult meaning “debauched” in Russian, it had been the family name for years, derived from the word for a fork in the road. Pokrovskoye perched on the banks of the Tura River in Tobolsk Province; Pokrovskoye was a typical Russian peasant village where few if any were educated and town s people were religious, narrow minded and fearful.
When Rasputin was eight years old, he suffered his first tragedy. He was playing with his older brother along the banks of the Tura when Dimitri fell and was drowned. Shortly thereafter, Rasputin began to startle his fellow-villagers by making amazing predictions. In one incident, Rasputin correctly identified a horse thief. As a teenager, Rasputin paid a visit to the local Verkhoturye Monastery. Here he encountered not only the Orthodox Church he had known from his childhood but also a number of heretical sects. Principals among these were the Khlysty and the Skopsty. The first group held that only through sin could one truly repent and receive God’s grace, while the second believed that if a penitent studied long enough, it was possible to attain a semi-divine nature and escape earthly judgment. When Rasputin returned to Pokrovskoye, he was a changed man: he impressed his fellow villagers with his impressive religious exhortations, spiced up with half-understood bits of doctrine he had picked up at Verkhoturye. Contrary to common belief, the monk Rasputin was in fact a married man. His wife, Praskovie, bore him four children, two boys and two girls. One son died in infancy, the other, Dimitri, was disabled. But the two girls, Varvara and Maria, grew up normally and eventually went to live with their father in St. Petersburg.
One day, while working in the fields, Rasputin claimed to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary. According to his version, she instructed him to become a pilgrim. He decides to bid his family farewell and sets off on a staggering journey on foot that would take him to the Orthodox monastery at Mount Ethos in Greece, two thousand miles away. When he returned to his village, his semi-religious aura seemed even more impressive. He attracted large crowds when he preached, although his version of the Gospel, sprinkled with half-learnt truths about sin and salvation, was decidedly un-Orthodox. Rasputin also allegedly began to practice what he preached, bedding as many of his female disciples as would allow him. According to Rasputin, such sexual unions, far from being wrong, were simply a way to true penance, which in turn would lead to salvation. It is one of the greatest contradictions in Rasputin’s story, and he was never able to reconcile his physical desires with his spiritual goals. Shortly after the turn of the century, Rasputin left Pokrovskoe on another pilgrimage which would take him to Kazan and finally to St. Petersburg. Here he attracted much attention among the local Orthodox hierarchy for his seemingly genuine desire for salvation coupled with his undoubted gift for speaking and persuasion. He left the Imperial capital, only to return, this time for good, in 1905, when a fateful meeting propelled him into the orbit of the Czar and Czarina. Thus setting his image in Russia s history forever.
Rasputin was introduced to Nicholas and Alexandra by Grand Duchess Militza on 31 October 1905. Militza, a daughter of the King of Montenegro who had married into the Russian Imperial Family, was renowned for her interest in spiritualism and the newest holy men who constantly paraded through the capital. She was eager to show off her latest discovery. “Today we got to know a man of God, Gregory, from Tobolsk Province,” the Emperor recorded simply in his diary. He had no way of knowing how fateful the meeting would be.
Gregory does not appear to have made much of an impression at first. Nicholas and Alexandra had far more to worry about that this new holy peasant: their only son and heir, Czarevich Alexei, born in 1904, had inherited the terrible disease hemophilia from his mother. Several years after their first meeting with Gregory, during one of their son’s crisis, they first turned to Rasputin, asking for his prayers. Rasputin duly prayed, and their son, deathly ill and overcome with the devastating effects of the disease, quickly recovered. This was to be a pattern repeated over and over again: Alexei fell ill, Rasputin prayed, Alexei
Faced with such incontrovertible evidence, Nicholas and Alexandra came to believe that God had sent Rasputin to save their only son. Their dependence on the Siberian peasant grew greater with each passing year, as cure after cure built one upon the other into a seemingly undeniable record of divine intervention.
As Rasputin’s fame, and, in many cases, infamy, spread across St. Petersburg and the Empire, Russia was left in disbelief. Wild tales of his drunken excesses and orgies kept gossips busy for hours. He himself possessed a peasant’s love of the tall tale, and greatly embellished his own accounts of his dealings with the Imperial Family. Although his visits to the Alexander Palace were infrequent (he more often met the Emperor and Empress at the nearby home of Anna Vyrubova) no one was prepared to believe the truth, preferring rumor to fact. And, because Alexei’s hemophilia remained a carefully guarded secret within the
Imperial Family, no one understood why Nicholas and Alexandra continued to tolerate the presence of this wild barbarian at Court. But old habits are hard to fight, Rasputin would often on occasions visit local taverns and dancing girl bars where he would indulge himself in alcohol and bed woman afterwards, contrary to common belief, the woman Rasputin bedded were not of the high class but rather the peasant women who were willing to listen to the semi-religious rambling of Rasputin. In one incidence recorded by secret police, Rasputin allegedly exposed his genitals, all the while still chatting to the bargirls around him.
When these damning reports came to the ears of the Czarina, she dismissed them straight off. After all how could the heavenly saint who healed the young Czareveich be capable of such behaviour? The Czarina took Rasputin in as if he were a relative. This act by the royal family lowered public faith in the family. The public thought that this would look bad for the country. They didn’t want a scoundrel like Rasputin to be too close with the high-positioned Czar. Even though the public tried very hard to get rid of him, the Czarina always managed to talk the Czar into letting Rasputin stay. This to the public looked as if the Czarina had a private affair with Rasputin, although most say the Czarina was possibly too narrow minded to take a lover, in Alexandra s letters to Rasputin, he is constantly addressed as saviour , darling and as the light of her life. But there is no further evidence this theory as of yet. When the Czar decided to leave his palace and take charge of his troops in the fight against Germany and Austria-Hungary during World War I, the people of Russia believed the Czar had left the Czarina – and, many believed, Rasputin – at the head of the Government. Although Rasputin rarely offered political advice (he had no understanding of politics) and often only echoed the views of the Empress herself, everyone believed that he was now the power behind the Throne, hiring and firing ministers and ordering the Emperor and Empress to do his evil bidding. As the situation with the war worsened, and public dissatisfaction grew, the rumblings against Rasputin became louder; it was only a matter of time before those who believed Rasputin evil would try to seek their vengeance.
It s hard to truly say how influential Rasputin really was, since he knew nothing of politics and was more a parrot to the Czarina when it came to ideas he did not understand. But he did suggest ideas of treating the peasants better by giving them more rights such as land ownership and the ability to earn social status. Rasputin himself was in actual fact a generous man who shared the wealth given to him by the Czarina with those around him. The bottom line is that Rasputin never had as much political influence, as people believed, it was everyone s paranoia that created Rasputin s immense control of the Romanovs, in actual fact he was nothing but a man who eased the stress of the parents of a sick child.
Rasputin’s life in St. Petersburg, though based on the Czarevich’s need, was not totally centered around the Romanov family. He remained an accessible holy monk and healer. His days consisted of a leisurely breakfast with family and close friends. Between 10 am to 1 pm, he had calling hours, open to any St. Petersburg citizen. Later in the afternoon, he called at the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo, the family’s favorite residence, for the family’s news. He only went to the palace when he was needed for healing or spiritual support. While in St. Petersburg, Rasputin did stay in touch with his family in Pokrovskoe, and in 1910 his daughter Maria moved to the city to attend the Seminary Academy. Soon after Maria’s move,
Rasputin’s other daughter Varvara arrived and the girls attended the prominent Steblin-Damensky Gymnasium. Praskovia, Rasputin’s wife, now made yearly voyages to the city to visit her daughters and husband.
It would be difficult to imagine a less likely assassin than Prince Felix Youssoupov. Rich, handsome and decadent, he had lived a life of unequalled privilege and luxury. In 1908, on the death of his only brother he became sole heir to the great family fortune, said to be even larger than that of the Romanovs themselves. In 1914, he reached the apex of his charmed life when he married Nicholas II’s niece. Yet it was the wealthy, homosexual twenty-nine-year old Felix Youssoupov who plotted and eventually carried out the murder of Rasputin. Youssoupov also appears to have had some sort of homosexual attraction to Rasputin, and there is some evidence to support the idea that he acted not only on the above motives, but also as a means of extracting personal revenge against the peasant. There were stories that Rasputin had rejected the Prince’s homosexual advances; that Rasputin had compiled a dossier on Youssoupov’s activities and was about to disclose its contents to the Emperor, forever ruining the Prince’s name and reputation. Felix certainly never let on to his fellow conspirators that he had any motive other than his expressed desire to save Russia; but had he also acted for personal reasons, he scarcely would have revealed this to men who had agreed to participate for patriotic motives.
Rasputin is as famous for his death as he is for his life. One evening at a meeting of Russian officials, it was decided that Rasputin was putting the entire nation in danger. Three men, Prince Feliks Yusupov (husband of the Czar’s niece), Vladimir Mitrofanovich Purishkevich (a member of the duma) and the Grand Duke Dimitry Pavlovich (the Czar’s cousin) took control of the situation. They lured him to the Yusupovsky Palace on the pretext that Prince Felix Yusupovsky would introduce Rasputin to his beautiful wife. Rasputin was led to the cellar and fed poisoned cakes and wine, but these did not affect him. Yusupovsky then shot the monk at point blank range and Rasputin collapsed on the floor. When Yusupov went to tell his fellow conspirators the good news, they sent him back to make sure he had done the job. On returning to inspect the body, Rasputin suddenly regained consciousness and started to throttle poor Yusupov, who needless to say was completely scared out of his wits. The Prince fled the cellar, screaming for help; when they returned Rasputin was gone. They found him in the yard crawling towards the gate and proceeded to shoot and bludgeon him. They then bound him and tossed him into the river. When Rasputin’s body was found, his bonds were broken and his lungs were filled with water, showing that he didn’t actually die until he was submerged in the frozen waters.
I m not really sure whether Rasputin was a holy man or that he was just a hustler, a man who knew how to cheat people. But I for one am certain that Rasputin was not responsible for the inevitable downfall of the Romanovs. The Romanovs themselves are responsible for their own demise. Rasputin had the dubious honour of being a legend in his own lifetime. In the decades since his death, he has only become more infamous. He is called “The Mad Monk,” but Rasputin was never a monk. He was simply an Orthodox believer in search of salvation. Dozens of authors have described Rasputin as unbathed and unkempt; we know, however, that he was fond of the steambath and used it frequently, so it is unlikely that he smelled vilely. He was a peasant, with – perhaps from past experience – a less rigid set of personal hygiene standards, but he was not the repulsive monster his enemies made him out to be. He is often portrayed in legend as a drunken thug; yet his daughter Maria, who shared his flat in St. Petersburg during the years of his greatest power, recalled with honesty that her father only began drinking heavily after the 1914 assassination attempt, and only then in an effort to ease the pain from his wounds. He certainly retained a peasant’s love of alcohol, but he could apparently drink vast quantities without showing any ill effects.
Finally, what of the legend that Rasputin and the Empress were lovers? When letters written by Alexandra to the peasant surfaced, they seemingly indicated the worst. But Alexandra wrote in a highly charged, emotional way to nearly all of her correspondents, and it is therefore not surprising that she would also adopt this tone with the man she believed sent by God to guide her husband and save their son. Above all, Alexandra remained passionately in love with her husband; the idea that she would ever have had an affair contradicts everything we know of her prim Victorian and moral character; that she would have selected an uneducated peasant whose sole relationship with her was built on religious principles is beyond belief.
I don t mean to say that Nicholas II was solely responsible for the fall of the Czarist regime, he simply drew the short straw. His father, like his father and his father before him were all Czars who begun with sweeping reforms but was to later undermine them themselves or by those around them. The Czars before Nicholas had set a path to glory for Nicholas, who himself is man of poor intellect. Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich. At the time of his father’s death in late 1894, Nicholas was an inexperienced youth wholly unprepared for the great task destiny had placed on his shoulders. Nicholas II was barely twenty-six years old at the time of his accession. During his son’s golden youth, Alexander III did not allow his son Nicholas much participation in affairs of government. It is likely that Alexander III feared that his eldest son was not intellectually capable of handling the inheritance that was rightfully his. Therefore, the father kept postponing the son’s introduction in to the daily running of Russia. Not one person, most of all Alexander III, ever imagined that this young and inexperienced Romanov would ascend the throne as early in life as he did. Czar Nicholas II s mother Czarina Maria-Feodorovna was nortorouis as a mother who did not allow her children to grow. Therefor altering the young Czar s behaviour to that all would regret. As Leon Trotsky once said:
His ancestors did not bequeath him one quality which would have made him capable of governing an empire