Larry Slawson received his Masters Degree at UNC Charlotte. He specializes in Russian and Ukrainian History.
Grigory Rasputin: Biographical Facts
- Birth Name: Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin
- Date of Birth: 21 January 1869
- Place of Birth: Pokrovskoye, Siberia (Imperial Russia)
- Date of Death: 30 December 1916 (47 Years of Age)
- Place of Death: Saint Petersburg, Russia
- Cause of Death: Murder/Homicide
- Nationality: Russian
- Father: Efim Rasputin
- Mother: Anna Parshukova
- Children: Dmitri Rasputin (1895-1937); Matryona Rasputin (1898-1977); Varvara Rasputin (1900-1925)
- Spouse(s): Praskovia Fedorovna Dubrovina
- Occupation(s): Priest; Peasant; Monk
- Religious Views: Christianity
- Best Known For: Religious monk that supposedly possessed healing powers; maintained tremendous influence over Tsar Nicholas II and his wife during the waning years of the Russian Empire.
Grigory Rasputin's Life
- Grigory Rasputin was born into a poor peasant family in Siberia (1869). Historians continue to search for records pertaining to Rasputin’s early life, but little documentation exists due to the lack of records maintained during this time period. For this reason, much of Rasputin’s origins and early life remain unknown to this day. What is known, however, is that young Rasputin lived in very poor conditions; receiving no education (a fact attested to by his illiteracy). He was also one of eight children (all of whom died prematurely); although it is possible that a ninth sibling may have also been born (a fact debated by historians to this day). It is also believed that Rasputin was named after St. Gregory of Nyssa—a famous theologian whose feast day was celebrated 11 days before the birth of Rasputin.
- At the age of 18, Rasputin married a young peasant girl by the name of Praskovia Dubrovina. The couple had seven children altogether, although only three survived into adulthood. After nearly ten years of marriage, Rasputin ventured to Saint Nicholas Monastery, where it is believed that he underwent a religious “awakening” and conversion. Following his conversion, Rasputin began traveling all over the Russian Empire, preaching and supposedly healing the sick and suffering. In his travels, Rasputin developed a strong reputation amongst the peasants for his miraculous abilities; a reputation that eventually spread all the way to Saint Petersburg and the Tsar himself (Nicholas II).
- Rasputin’s fame reached unprecedented heights when he was called upon by the Tsar and Tsarina to heal their son, Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia. Somewhat miraculously, Rasputin was able to quell Alexei’s bleeding upon arriving at the Imperial palace, leaving both the Tsar and Tsarina both stunned and indebted to Rasputin. Historians suggest several explanations for this seemingly “miraculous” event. Some postulate that Rasputin merely calmed Alexei down through hypnosis, or the administration of aspirin. Others suggest that Rasputin’s calm demeanor and supreme confidence were enough to stop young Alexei’s bleeding. Whatever the case may be, Rasputin certainly succeeded in preventing the death of Alexei; giving him unprecedented influence and power over the Imperial family, who marveled at his supposedly “divine” abilities. For this reason, Rasputin was continuously invited to the royal palace, becoming a regular guest of honor. In these visits, Rasputin continued to help Alexei on numerous occasions; garnering even greater support and influence over the royal family in the process.
- Rasputin’s influence over the royal family grew substantially with the advent of World War One. With the Tsar forced to be away on the front lines, Rasputin was called upon by Tsarina Alexandra on several occasions to help with her ailing son. As a mystic, Alexandra became obsessed with Rasputin. Some even believe that the Tsarina engaged in an affair with Rasputin, though these rumors have proven to be unfounded.
- After several years of living in the spotlight, a group of Russian aristocrats plotted to murder Rasputin before he could damage the Russian Empire’s reputation any further. Prince Felix Yusupov and his group of conspirators were able to successfully lure Rasputin to his home on the night of 30 December 1916, where they poisoned the supposed “holy man.” To their disbelief, however, the poison had little effect; prompting the Prince to shoot Rasputin. After briefly passing out from his wound, Rasputin awoke and escaped from the Prince’s house, only to be shot twice more in the back and head. Still alive, the conspirators began to viciously beat Rasputin before they tied him up and dumped his body into the Neiva River; thus, ending the life of one of Russia’s most famous faith healers.
- Ironically, Rasputin had predicted his murder in a letter to Tsarina Alexandra. In the letter, he proclaimed that members of the nobility would kill him, leading to the destruction of the royal family as well as bloodshed throughout the Russian empire. Rasputin’s prophesy came true less than seven months later (following his death), with the advent of the Bolshevik Revolution, and the eventual murder of the entire royal family by Communist forces.
Fun Facts About Rasputin
- Rasputin was known to have had terrible table manners. Sources proclaim that he often licked spoons before using them to serve others and that his beard was often filled with pieces of bread (which allegedly rotted on numerous occasions). Rasputin was also known for his terrible hygiene; failing to bathe or cleanse himself on a regular basis. He even claimed on one occasion to have not changed his underwear in over six months.
- Rasputin claimed that his “healing powers” first began in childhood. He claimed that he could heal horses, for example, with the simple touch of his hand.
- Rasputin believed that it was important to embrace sin by openly engaging in it. Without sin, he believed that one could not repent of it.
- Rasputin was anti-war and an advocate for equal rights.
- Rasputin once told Nicholas II of a divine vision he had witnessed, in which Russia faced utter destruction in World War One if the Tsar did not accompany the troops to the front. The Tsar apparently believed Rasputin’s vision and personally took control of the front; a decision that led to tremendous losses on behalf of the Russian Army, due to his inexperience and lack of military knowledge.
- Rasputin often referred to the Tsar and Tsarina as “Papa” and “Mama.”
- Rasputin was nearly assassinated on one other occasion. In 1914, a woman stabbed Rasputin in the stomach, leaving him barely alive and in constant pain for the remainder of his life. Following the assassination attempt, the Tsar tasked his secret police (The Okhrana) to provide 24/7 surveillance and protection to Rasputin. In their observations of Rasputin, the Okhrana compiled numerous notes on the “holy man,” which later became known as the “staircase notes.” These notes continue to be an invaluable resource on Rasputin’s life for modern historians.
- Despite his lack of hygiene and personal manners, Rasputin developed a tremendous following from upper-class women in Russia. He even had a group of favored women that he referred to as his “little ladies.”
“When the bell tolls three times, it will announce that I have been killed. If I am killed by common men, you and your children will rule Russia for centuries to come; if I am killed by one of your stock, you and your family will be killed by the Russian people! Pray Tsar of Russia. Pray.”
— Grigory Rasputin
Quotes by Rasputin
- “When the bell tolls three times, it will announce that I have been killed. If I am killed by common men, you and your children will rule Russia for centuries to come; if I am killed by one of your stock, you and your family will be killed by the Russian people! Pray Tsar of Russia. Pray.”
- “When I go to confession I don’t offer God small sins, petty squabbles, jealousies… I offer him sins worth forgiving.”
- “God has seen your tears and heard your prayers. Do not grieve. The little one will not die. Do not allow the doctors to bother him too much.”
Timeline of Rasputin's Life
21 January 1869
Rasputin is born in Pokrovskoye, Siberia.
Rasputin marries Praskovia Dubrovina.
Rasputin undergoes religious conversion.
Rasputin becomes acquainted with the royal family; helping to heal young Alexei on numerous occasions.
Rasputin is nearly assassinated by woman who stabs him in the stomach.
30 December 1916
Rasputin is murdered by a group of conspirators.
In closing, the life of Gregory Rasputin is one of mystery and intrigue. Historians continue to scan documents in the Russian archives to better understand Rasputin and his ever-lasting influence over the Russian royal family, as Rasputin’s history is often based on rumors, speculation, and unsubstantiated evidence. What remains certain, however, is this: Rasputin played a substantial role in the destruction of Imperial Russia and the royal family. His prominence in the Russian court not only helped to discredit the tsarist regime, but also hastened the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty. Only time will tell what new facts can be discovered about this fascinating historical figure.
Suggestions for Further Reading
Fuhrmann, Joseph T. Rasputin: The Untold Story. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2013.
Radzinsky, Edvard. The Rasputin File. New York, New York: Anchor Books, 2000.
Read More From Owlcation
Smith, Douglas. Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs. New York, New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2016.
Smith, Douglas. Rasputin: The Biography. London: Macmillan, 2016.
Wikipedia contributors, "Grigori Rasputin," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Grigori_Rasputin&oldid=865076894 (accessed October 22, 2018).
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Larry Slawson
Larry Slawson (author) from North Carolina on October 24, 2018:
@Eric Yes, Rasputin was very strange, indeed! Haha.
@Liz I didn't realize that either, until I researched this topic more. It was also rumored that he had a sibling that survived into adulthood with him. But there are only a few sources that can substantiate that.
Liz Westwood from UK on October 24, 2018:
Interesting subject matter. I didn't realise that Rasputin had a child who lived into the 1970s.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 24, 2018:
Very cool article on a very strange duck. I studied him way back and always felt comforted about having to sin in order to repent ;-)
Just fascinating here. Why not have healing powers?