While adored by hordes of fanatics and the Tsarina Alexandra herself – who believed his powers to be healing her sick son – Rasputin was despised and feared by most of the country’s elite.
To them, Rasputin was the evil puppet master to a weak-willed monarchy and his murder was necessary to save the country from catastrophe.
Here are five facts about Rasputin, known as the ‘debauched one’…
Having converted to a radical religious sect at the age of 18, Rasputin built a reputation as a healer – one who could predict the future and grant divine deliverance.
This was achieved through his doctrine of ‘holy passionlessness’, which claimed that the best way to be closer to God was through sinful actions, especially those of the flesh. His flesh, to be exact.
Despite his filthy hair and beard and malodorous appearance, Rasputin’s followers grew in number.
There are accounts from his life – be they true or rumours – that Rasputin dipped his dirt-crusted fingers into jam so women could “humble” themselves by licking them clean.
Followers would collect his nail clippings and sew them into the hem of their dresses so they would be “protected by his shield”.
MAD, STARING EYES
Rasputin’s seduction success has been put down to his hypnotic blue eyes, as everyone he met commented on his intense, mesmeric gaze. He could allegedly enlarge and contract his pupils at will.
Many people found it difficult to be close to Rasputin for any length of time.
dOne man wrote after meeting him for the first time that he smelled “like a goat”.
Rasputin suffered from terrible breath – not helped by the fact that his teeth were said to be so rotten that they had turned black – and he once claimed not to have changed his underwear for six months.
When Rasputin was invited to the home of Prince Feliks Yusopov on 29 December 1916, he thought it was for a rendezvous with his beautiful, young wife Irina.
Yusopov, along with a small cabal of conspirators including the Tsar’s cousin, had other plans.
Rasputin was offered wine and cakes laced with cyanide, but, despite consuming enough to kill five men, showed no signs of succumbing to the poison.
Yusopov shot him at close range, but Rasputin still didn’t die. He made it to the courtyard before being chased down and shot a second time.
If the story is to be believed, Rasputin still twitched with life, so the assassins beat him and, for good measure, one more bullet was fired, this time into his brain.
They wrapped the body in a carpet and hurled it into the Neva River (although some claim he may have been alive when he hit the water, and actually perished by drowning).
Rasputin’s body was discovered a couple of days later, washed up on the shore – his arms raised as if he had broken his bonds in one last attempt to cheat death.
This article was first published in the June 2016 issue of History Revealed.