Rasputin Man Or Myth Essay Research Paper

Rasputin: Man Or Myth Essay, Research Paper Rasputin: The Man and the Myth Few people in the 20th Century have been more notorious, yet more mysterious, than the Siberian peasant who burst upon the world’s stage in 1905,

Rasputin: Man Or Myth Essay, Research Paper

Rasputin: The Man and the Myth

Few people in the 20th Century have been more notorious, yet more

mysterious, than the Siberian peasant who burst upon the world’s stage in 1905,

Gregory Yefimovich Novykh. Gregory is better known today as ?Rasputin.?

Rasputin literally translates to ?the debauched one,? a moral corrupter. To the

Imperial Family of Russia, he was simply ?Father Gregory.? Rasputin was known

for seeming to dominate the last Tsar of Russia, causing the downfall of both men.

Gregory Rasputin, the man was anything but simple. There still exists considerable

controversy amongst scholars as to who he was, what his influence over the tragic

Romanov dynasty really was, and perhaps most of all, what power he possessed to

heal Nicholas and Alexandra’s only son. ( Massie 490-495).

Rasputin is known as the Siberian mystic healer, whose life has been retold

countless number of times throughout history. People often talk of Rasputin?s

mystery and discrepancies associated with the depiction of Rasputin’s life. Because

he lived in a world beyond the reach of the written word, little is known about the

first 40 years of Rasputin’s life. What is known, has been retold through family

stories and mysterious tales of his healing powers and visions. This means that,

depending on the teller of the story, Rasputin might be a holy monk on one

occasion, then an actor or phony without any connection to God on

another. (Pathy, Rasputin par. 7-9). Some facts have been confirmed by historians

though. There is a general understanding that Rasputin was born between 1864

and 1865. His birth place and home was the village of Pokrovskoe, presently

Tiumen’ Oblast. Located in Siberia, Pokrovskoe can be found on the Toura River.

(Clarson 502-503).

As a child Rasputin was often considered mischievous, however he was not

very intelligent. He acquired very little education as a child and even as an adult

he was illiterate. However like many aspects of Rasputin?s life there is little

history known of his early years, especially his childhood. (Pathy, Rasputin par.


At the age of 18, Rasputin went through a religious transition, eventually

traveling to the monastery at Verkhoture. Here, he was introduced to the Russian

religion Skoptsy. Skoptsy is a religion in which people believe the only way to

reach God is through sin; ?sin to drive out sin.? (Massie 495). Rasputin became

extraordinarily fascinated with this religion, however he did not take further

interest in it because of it?s lack of popularity. After traveling to the monastery

and spending some time there, he did not become a monk. Even though he did not

stay at the monastery to become a monk, this trip already set him on the path to

power and fame. (Massie 495).

At the age of 19 Rasputin returned to his hometown of Pokrovskoe and married

Praskovia Fyodorovna. They had three children: Dimitri in 1897, Maria in 1898,

and Varvara in 1900. Rasputin?s first son died at infancy and his youngest son had

a mental illness. Both of the girls were surprisingly healthy and lived with

Gregory in St. Petersburg most of their young lives. (Pathy, Rasputin par. 12-13).

To support his family Rasputin, like most men, turned to farming. It was said

Rasputin chose the ?employment? of farming over any other options because of

the peaceful time he had to think about his life and where he was going in life.

One day, while working in the fields, Rasputin claimed to have seen a vision of the

Virgin Mary. According to his vision, she instructed him to become a pilgrim. He

did not delay this pilgrimage and only a few short hours later bid his young family

farewell and set out on his journey, eventually walking some two thousand miles,

to the Orthodox monastery at Mount Athos in Greece. (Pathy,Rasputin par. 17;

Massie 496-497). When he returned to his village, his semi-religious beliefs

appeared to be very impressive. He attracted large crowds when he preached,

although his version of the Gospel, containing only half-learnt truths about sin and

salvation, was considered un-Orthodox. Also Rasputin also allegedly began to

practice what he preached as well. (Pathy, Rasputin par. 18).

Marriage did not settle Rasputin. Rasputin was a womanizer and although

Praskovie knew of this womanizing she never complained; ?He has enough for

all,? she would say. (Massie 498). And so since the married life obviously did not

satisfy Rasputin he continued to wander, traveling to places of religious

significance such as Mt. Athos, Greece and Jerusalem. A self proclaimed holy

man, Rasputin held the power to heal the sick and predict the future. His fame

grew far and wide, and soon people traveled from long distances in search of his

insight and healing powers. In return for his services, people brought presents of

food and money. While Rasputin paved his road to success little did he know

what lay ahead of him. (Massie 498; Clarson 505-506).

In late 1903 Empress Alexandra found herself pregnant with her second child.

Intense praying and spiritualism accompanied her throughout the pregnancy, she

prayed for a healthy baby. Finally on July 30, 1904, a little boy was born,

Alexandra was overjoyed. Nicholas and Alexandra called him Alexis in memory

of the second Romanov Tsar. The heir became the center of the family’s attention

as a delighted Imperial couple reveled in the joy of finally having an heir they

could call their own. Despite the couple’s delight, within months of Alexis’ birth a

dark cloud settled over the Imperial nursery. Alexis’s body, once injured, would

not stop bleeding. The Tsarevich was another victim of the dreaded disease

inherited from his great-grandmother Queen Victoria, hemophilia. Nicholas

accepted this new trial with stoic fatalism, Alexandra blamed herself for her son’s

affliction. The Tsar’s brother-in-law, Grand Duke Alexander Michaelovich, once

said that ?Alexandra refused to surrender to fate…she talked incessantly of the

ignorance of the physicians. She professed an open preference for medicine men.?

( Baker 76). She turned toward religion…but her prayers were tainted with a

certain hysteria. The stage was set for the appearance of a miracle worker

In the midst of this tragedy within the Imperial family, Rasputin appeared in St.

Petersburg. Initially, Rasputin moved prudently in the Russian capital’s

aristocratic circles. He tried, unsuccessfully, to restrain his debauched,

womanizing ways, yet temptation was overwhelming. Within months, Rasputin,

the saintly sinner, had achieved recognition and a small following in St.

Petersburg. Besides gaining the friendship of Grand Duchess Militza and

Anastasia, Rasputin also gained the trust of Anna Vyrubova, Empress Alexandra’s

trusted companion. It was under the recommendation of the Grand Duchesses and

Anna Vyrubova that Rasputin was summoned to appear before. (Massie 506-508).

Alexandra. Rasputin was introduced to Nicholas and Alexandra by Grand

Duchess Militza on October 31, 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.(Massie 507). He had no way of knowing how fateful the

meeting would be. (Massie 506-508).

Rasputin 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. 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 prayed daily, 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: Alexis fell ill,

Rasputin prayed, Alexis recovered. (Pathy, Rasputin par.26).

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. (Clarson


As Rasputin’s fame, and, in many cases, disgrace, 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, no

one was prepared to believe the truth, preferring rumor to fact. And, because

Alexis?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 ill-mannered, vulgar, filthy man at Court. (Pathy, Rasputin par

29-30; Clarson 513).

Nicholas’s secret police quickly informed the Tsar of these rumors. An atoning

Rasputin was summoned to appear before the infuriated Tsar, however Alexandra

defended him in fear her son would die. Nicholas punished Rasputin by sending

him back to the provinces, but no sooner had Rasputin left when another bleeding

crisis almost killed Alexis. Rasputin’s influence over the boy guaranteed the

monk’s return to St. Petersburg. His position within the imperial circle was never

again challenged. Alexandra grew completely dependent on the man, who not only

became her son’s faith healer, but also the Empress’ confidant. The evil monk’s

presence among the Tsar and his family would further alienate them from the

capital and all those circles that had traditionally been the mainstay of tsarism.

Nicholas and Alexandra were doomed from that point on. ( Pathy, Rasputin par.


The outbreak of the First World War, and the Emperor’s decision to take

command of the Army himself, left the Empress – 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. (Baker 88).

This is the letter Rasputin wrote before his horrible death he foresaw. He

predicted that if he should happen to die because one of the Romanov or Romanov

relatives killed him, the entire Romanov family, including the children, would die

within 1 or 2 years. Two months later, the Romanov family was murdered by the

Bosheviks. No one knows how Rasputin’s so-called curse worked, he had no

affiliation with neither Lenin or the Revolutionists. Many Russian Gypsies thought

Rasputin might have made a pact with the devil for the curse. (Pathy, Rasputin par.


“I write and leave behind me this letter at St. Petersburg. I feel that I shall leave

life before January 1…If I am killed by common assassins, and especially by my

brothers the Russian peasants, you Tsar of Russia, have nothing to fear, remain on

your throne and govern, and you, Russian Tsar, will have nothing to fear for your

children, they will reign for hundreds of years in Russia…if it was your relations

who have wrought my death, then no one in the family, that is to say, none of your

children or relations, will remain alive for more than two years. They will be killed

by the Russian people…You must reflect and act prudently. Think of your safety

and tell your relations that I have paid for them with my blood. I shall be killed. I

am no longer among the living.”

Pray, pray, be strong,

think of your blessed family.

Gregory ( Pathy, Rasputin par. 37).

Rasputin is as famous for his life as well as for his death. Frustrated by their

inability to break down the walls built by Nicholas and Alexandra, some members

of the Romanov family took events into their own hands. How many of the

Romanovs were involved in the actual plotting to assassinate Rasputin will never

be known for certain. What is widely accepted is that the Tsar’s cousin, Grand

Duke Dimitri Pavlovich and Prince Felix Youssoupov, husband of Nicholas II’s

niece Princess Irina Alexandrovna of Russia, were among the leaders of the plot to

strike against Rasputin. The monk, always frustrated by the Romanov’s opposition

to his role in Russia, was invited by Youssoupov to attend an evening gathering at

his vast Petrograd palace. Felix promised Rasputin that his wife Irina would be

there to greet him. The monk fell in the trap and willingly arrived at the

Youssoupov palace in the evening of December 16, 1916. He did not survive the

evening. (Clarson 512-513; Massie 510-511; Krieger 596; Baker 96).

The three men, Prince Feliks, Vladimir Mitrofanovich, and the Grand Duke

Dimitry Pavlovich devised an intricate plan, the three invited Rasputin over to the

Yusupov Palace on December 30, 1916 to meet the Tsar’s beautiful niece. While

waiting for her to appear Rasputin was led to the cellar and fed cakes and wine

laced with poison, but these had no affect on him. Yussupov then shot Rasputin at

point blank range and Rasputin collapsed on the floor. When Yussupov went to

tell his fellow conspirators Rasputin was dead, they sent him back to make sure.

On returning to inspect the body, Rasputin suddenly regained consciousness. The

Prince fled the cellar, screaming for help. When Yussupov and Grand Duke Dmitri

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 Neva river. When Rasputin’s body was found the next day, his ties

were broken and his lungs were filled with water, showing that he didn’t actually

die until he was submerged in the frozen waters. (Clarson 512-513; Massie

510-511; Krieger 596; Baker 96

By the next day Prince Felix Youssoupov was under questioning by the

Petrograd police. So messy had been the assassins that proof of their deed was

found all over the Youssoupov palace. Within hours of the report concerning

Rasputin’s disappearance, the Petrograd police by orders of Alexandra, forbid the

conspirators from leaving the Russian capital. As soon as he received news of

events in Petrograd Nicholas boarded his train and hurriedly returned to the

capital. Rasputin’s corpse was discovered under the ice of the Neva on December

19. The fury and outrage expressed by Nicholas and Alexandra knew no bounds as

they sought to punish all of the conspirators. At the same time, news of Rasputin’s

death caused widespread eruptions of rapture in Petrograd. Dimitri and Felix were

heralded as heroes and many believed that the “alleged” German influence

represented by Alexandra was going to stop.(Clarson 512-513; Massie 510-513;

Baker 96).

While the Petrograd elite enjoyed their supposed liberation from Rasputin’s

clutches, the vast majority of the Russian population saw the events in a

completely different light. For 80% of the Russian population Rasputin was a

“man of the people.” He was their hope that the imperial couple would never

forget the plight of the peasantry. His assassination at the hands of aristocrats, and

even members of the imperial family, robbed the upper classes of much support

among the inhabitants of their estates. ( Massie 514).

In the end, Nicholas sent his two wayward relatives into exile. Ironically

enough, it was this punishment what allowed Dimitri and Felix to avoid falling in

the hands of Bolsheviks during the revolution. Within three months of Rasputin’s

death, Nicholas lost his throne, the imperial family were imprisoned and many of

the Romanov cousins arrested. In then end almost twenty members of the

Romanov family were massacred by Bolshevik firing squads. No other epitaph to

Rasputin’s death better exemplifies the repercussions of the monk’s death than that

written by Grand Duchess Maria Pavlova, sister, in her Memoirs: “His death came

to late to change the course of events. His dreadful name had become too

thoroughly a symbol of disaster. The daring of those who killed him to save their

country was miscalculated. All of the participants in the plot, with the exception of

Prince Youssoupov later understood that in raising their hands to preserve the old

regime they struck it, in reality, its final blow?. (Pathy Rasputin par. 41).

Although many true facts about Rasputin have been lost what now remains is

the undying ledgened and myth of Rasputin. When People speak of Rasputin?s

myth they talk of the curse that he laid upon the Romanov family, some say he

sold his soul to the devil in order to place that curse on the family… (Rasputin par.


The dreadful night of July 16, 1918, at midnight the chief executioner Yakov

?dark man? Yurovsky, went upstairs to awaken the Romanov family. In his pocket

he had a Colt pistol with a cartridge clip. Dr. Bortkin, the family doctor was alert,

he was already awake writing a letter which would turn up to be his last letter.

Yurovsky explained his intrusion saying, ?Because of unrest in the town, it has

become necessary to move the family downstairs,? he said. ?It would be dangerous

to be in the upper rooms if there was shooting in the streets.?(Rasputin par. 16-17).

Botkin understood and went to awake the family and tell them to get dressed

quickly. Nicholas, 50, and Alexis, 13, dressed in simple military shirts, trousers,

boots, and cap. Alexandra, 46, and Olga, 22, Tatiana, 21, Marie, 19, and

Anastasia, 17, quickly dressed. From there Yurovsky led all of them downstairs,

to a bare room with no furniture. Then he announced;

“In view of the fact that your relatives are continuing their attack on Soviet Russia,

the Ural Executive Committee has decided to……execute you.” ( Rasputin par.


Yurovsky then used Colt in his pocket and fired at the Tsar. Soon the entire

squad began to fire at the family, each of the soldiers had been told beforehand

whom they were assigned to shoot and ordered to aim for the heart to avoid

excessive quantities of blood. The empress and Olga each tried to make a sign of a

cross as a prayer but they did not have time. Now Alexis and Tatiana, Marie and

Anastasia remained alive. It is said bullets fired at the daughters? chest but they

seemed to bounce off, (later Historians found out the daughters sowed jewels on

their dresses to act as a shield). While Alexis grasping for support was kicked in

the head by a executioner. Then the executioners stabbed Alexis, Marie, and

Anastasia. Blood was everywhere. (Rasputin par. 19-21).

Sheets off the beds were collected to drag out the bodies. When they picked

up Anastasia?s body and put her on a sheet she cried out. She was still alive. But

then she got still and they continued, till they got to a abandoned place in the

dense forest called the Four Brothers. There they undressed the family and

collected their items and the jewels from the duchesses to resell them in a

market.(Rasptin par. 23).

To get rid of any evidence of carnage, bones, and a rotting corpse they

chopped the bodies up into fine pieces which looked like chopped meat, …then the

bodies were destroyed with sulfuric acid and by burning on the bonfires with the

aid of gasoline. The fatty matter in the corpses melted and spread over the ground

where it became mixed with the earth. (Rasputin par. 25).

Now, ever since the night of the Romanov massacre took place, there has

been two missing corpses which is that of Anastasia and her brother Alexis.

Anastasia was the one who executioners claimed was still alive when they put her

on the sheet to drag her out. When they dumped the bodies, the executioners could

not find Anastasia?s. So they left the situation alone and moved on. So,…if

Anastasia was still alive from the shooting, and was not buried alive because they

didn?t find her body, then…..what could have happened? (Rasputin par 27-29).

Some say Anastasia burns in the fiery pits of Hell alongside Rasputin

answering his every whim. No matter where Anastasia did go and whether or not

she survived her soul will never lay at rest peacefully for it is tainted, as are her

families, with the harsh regrets of a single mystical myth known only as Rasputin;

the cause for the downfall of the Imperial government, the cause for the collapse

of her family. (Rasputin par. 31; Clarson 517).