Rasputin Man or Myth Essay

This essay has a total of 3322 words and 14 pages.

Rasputin Man or Myth

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
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