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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Grigori Rasputin

EARLY LIFE 

Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin was born a peasant in a small Siberian village along the Tura River called Pokrovskoye on January 21, 1869. This village was located in the Tyumen district.

Grigory's father was a good for nothing peasant with no regular occupation. He was nicknamed “Rasputin” (a derivation of the adjective “rasputny” meaning “loose living”) in keeping with his reputation and the name stuck.

BELIEFS 

Originally Rasputin had a steady life working the land in his native village in Siberia.

In 1897, he had a vision of the Virgin Mary. Inspired Rasputin left his home in Pokrovskoye to go in a pilgrimage.

Rasputin spent three months in the Verkhoturye Monastery. There, he joined the Skopsty, a renegade sect within the Russian Orthodox Church that believed that the only way to reach God was through sinful actions. Once the sin was committed and confessed, the penitent could achieve forgiveness.

Rasputin returned to Pokrovskoye a changed man, looking disheveled and behaving differently than he had before. He became a vegetarian, swore off alcohol, and prayed and sang much more fervently than he had in the past.

Grigori Rasputin (1864-1916)

Rasputin would spend the years that followed living as a Stranniki, (a holy wanderer, or pilgrim), leaving Pokrovskoye for months or even years at a time to wander the country visiting monasteries and holy sites.

By the early 1900s, Rasputin had developed a small circle of acolytes, primarily family members and other local peasants, who prayed with him on Sundays and other holy days when he was in Pokrovskoye.

In 1903, Rasputin arrived in St Petersburg, where he declared himself a staretz, or holy man, who had healing and prophetical powers.

Rasputin was taken up by the St Petersburg society and he frequented the bath houses there.

Rasputin preached the best way to get close to God was to sin and then repent, which was understandably an appealing doctrine for many of the St Petersburg citizens.

RELATIONSHIP WITH ROYAL FAMILY 

Rasputin first met Tsar Nicholas II on November 1, 1905, at the Peterhof Palace. The Tsar recorded the event in his diary, writing that he and Alexandra had "made the acquaintance of a man of God - Grigory, from Tobolsk province."

Rasputin would not meet the Tsar and his wife again for some months: he returned to Prokovskoye shortly after meeting their first meeting, and did not return to St. Petersburg until July 1906.

By late 1906, Rasputin began acting as a healer for the royal family's son Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia and was Nicholas' only heir (Tsarevitch). The coarse Russian monk especially adhered himself to the superstitious Alexandra because of her faith in his power to cure her son of the condition. The monk seemed to have the gift of making their sick boy better every time he begun to hemorrhage.

Alexandra Feodorovna with her children, Rasputin and the nurse Maria Ivanova Vishnyakova (1908)

When Rasputin expressed an interest in going to the front to bless the troops early in the First World War, the Commander-in Chief, Grand Duke Nicholas, promised to hang him if he showed up.

Rasputin then claimed that he had a revelation that Russian armies would not be successful until the Tsar personally took command. This the ill-prepared Tsar Nicholas II proceeded to do with dire consequences for himself and for Russia.

MARRIAGE 

Rasputin married a peasant girl named Praskovya Dubrovina at the age of 18 in February 1887.

Rasputin with his wife and daughter Matryona (Maria) in his St. Petersburg apartment in 1911

Praskovya remained in Pokrovskoye throughout Rasputin's later travels and rise to prominence, and remained devoted to him until his death.

The couple had seven children, though only three survived to adulthood: Dmitry (b. 1895), Maria (b. 1898) and Varvara (b. 1900).

Rasputin with his children

DEATH 

After gaining control through the Czarina over political and ecclesiastical appointments, Rasputin was notorious debauchery was creating such a scandal that it threatened to discredit the monarchy.

On July 12, 1914 Chionya Guseva, a 33-year-old peasant woman attempted to assassinate Rasputin by stabbing him in the stomach outside his home in Pokrovskoye. Rasputin was seriously wounded, but eventually recovered from the attack.

Rasputin in the hospital

Having decided that Rasputin's influence over the Tsarina had made him a threat to the empire, a group of nobles led by Prince Felix Yusupov, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, and the right-wing politician Vladimir Purishkevich concocted a plan to kill Rasputin by luring him to the Yusupovs' Moika Palace.


Having decided that Rasputin's influence over the Tsarina had made him a threat to the empire, a group of nobles led by Prince Felix Yusupov, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, and the right-wing politician Vladimir Purishkevich concocted a plan to kill Rasputin by luring him to the Yusupovs' Moika Palace.

Rasputin was murdered during the early morning on December 30, 1916 at the home of Felix Yusupov. Attempts to poison the dissolute monk in the basement of Yusopov Palace failed, so Yusupov returned with a revolver and shot him once in the chest. Still Rasputin refused to die and he attacked Yusupov, who fled upstairs. Rasputin followed, and made it into the palace's courtyard before being shot at close range to his forehead by Purishkevich and collapsing into a snowbank.

Rasputin with bullet wound in forehead

The conspirators then wrapped Rasputin's body in cloth, drove it to the Petrovsky Bridge and dropped it into the Malaya Nevka River.

Subsequently, the Tsarina Alexandra buried Rasputin's body in the grounds of Tsarskoye Selo, but after the February Revolution, a group of workers from Saint Petersburg uncovered the remains, carried them into the nearby woods, and burned them.

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