Written by Jonathan Dunder
Rasputin was born in 1864 in the village of Pokrovskoe in Siberia. At the age of eighteen, he underwent a religious rebirth, traveling to a monastery in the town of Verkhoture. Once there, he met the Khlysty sect, but did not become a monk. Instead, he returned to Pokrovskoe at the age of 19 and married a woman named Praskovia Fyodorovna.
The couple had three children named Dimitri, Maria, and Varvara. Despite his marriage, Rasputin could not settle down. He continued his wandering, visiting religious places such as Athens and Jerusalem. Eventually, he began to call himself a holy man, stating that he could heal ailments and predict the future.
His fame began to grow as people heard about him and he shared his future insights and healing powers with people, in exchange for food and money. He was renowned for his ability to calm people who were feeling very stressed and help them to see solutions to their problems.
Rasputin was plowing in a field one day when he was struck by a vision. The vision was an apparition in the form of the Holy Mother, who told Rasputin that the tsarevich Aleksei was a hemophiliac and that he should stop the boy's bleeding. In 1902, Rasputin began to make his way to St. Petersburg.
His first stop was in Kazan, where he learned about Europeans and their culture while he stayed in a European house. While there, he made many acquaintances in the wealthy class and began to build a following of disciples. They viewed him as a man of God and a religious elder.
When he reached St. Petersburg in 1905, Rasputin began to make himself known as a healer. He kept office hours of 10am to 1pm every day, during which anyone could call upon him for services. Rasputin's growing fame eventually allowed him visits to the Alexander Palace, where he assisted the very wealthy and powerful.
Rasputin was first called upon to assist the royal family in 1907. Their son was indeed a hemophiliac and, although they wanted it kept quiet, they needed someone who could help. Rasputin was called in and successfully stopped the bleeding, telling the royal family that their own destiny was deeply linked to himself.
Although Rasputin's family continued to live in Pkorovskoe, he kept in touch, and they came to visit him on occasion. Eventually, his daughters Maria and Varvara moved to the city to attend academies, allowing him to spend more time with them. His wife was able to make annual trips to St. Petersburg to visit Rasputin and their daughters.
Rasputin gradually became more and more a part of the royal family, providing the czar with advice on political and religious matters, as well as healing his son. Despite his services, many grew to hate Rasputin and spread rumors about mistresses and his behavior. As a result, Rasputin developed a poor reputation among many of the upper class, who suspected that he had seduced the royal family and had too strong a role in their monarchy.
Eventually it was decided by Russian royals that Rasputin was a danger to Russia. Three men: Prince Feliks Yusupov, Vladimir Mitrofanovich Purishkevich, and the Grand Duke Dimitry Pavlovich invited Rasputin to the Yusupov Palace on December 30, 1916 to meet the Tsar's niece. While they were "waiting" for the niece, they men fed Rasputin poisoned wine and tea cakes, which surprisingly did not affect him in the least. Yusupov grew angry and shot Rasputin, who staggered into the courtyard while the other men were preparing to leave. Despite being shot again by Puishkevich, Rasputin lived on until the three men threw him into the river and he drowned.
Today, there is still much controversy surrounding Rasputin's life and he has become a mystical figure in Russian history. There is no dispute, however, that he had a large impact on the Romanov family and the history of Russia.