Awesome Villain In History: Rasputin

Ah, yes, it has been far too long since we have done one of these. It’s Awesome People in History time!

This week, I’m doing something different. Previously, my Awesome People have all been heroes of some sort, people who made a positive difference in the world. But what’s an awesome hero without an awesome villain?

With that in mind, let me introduce you to an early 20th century Russian mystic by the name of Rasputin.

He's the one in the middle with a white shirt, beard, and Charles Mansion "Welcome to The Family" eyes.

You’ve probably already heard of the man (full name Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin), who became famous for gaining the trust and confidence of Russia’s last tsar after “miraculously healing” the ruler’s son.

Because that is the face of a man you trust your children with.

There is a reason the man has a haunting presence in our cultural memory, and it isn’t just that creepy, creepy face.

Let’s start with his childhood. Born in Siberia to a peasant family (meaning he would have had a tough childhood like Abe Lincoln, except IN SIBERIA!!!!), the first sign he might be something special came when he was still a very young boy. His older brother, Dmitri, fell through the ice into a frozen pond, and young Rasputin jumped in to save him. This put both boys in danger (remember: SIBERIA), but luckily a passerby was able to pull them out. Afterwards, Dmitri succumbed to the cold, got pneumonia, and died. Rasputin didn’t.

As the boy grew older, his villagers began to claim he had supernatural powers. In adulthood he took the mantle of a religious mystic, travelling to Greece and Jerusalem on pilgrimages before settling in Saint Petersburg.

Enter Tsar Nicholas II and his hemophiliac son, Alexei. A rare hereditary blood disorder, hemophilia prevents blood from clotting, meaning little Alexei could bleed to death from the littlest cut or bruise. Yet Rasputin somehow was able to heal the boy, meaning it wasn’t long before Tsar Nicholas II and his wife began calling this weird, creepy mystic to help more and more frequently. But what about when Rasputin wasn’t there, you ask? Well, in 1912 there is a report that he was able to heal Alexei by telegram.

But Rasputin was no good guy, and the tsar’s advisers knew it. He was surrounded by a cult of followers to whom he preached that in order to be saved by faith in Jesus, people must first commit sins. So, he had lots and lots of sex with his lady followers. He also took bribes, and was a heavy drinker. By Russian standards.

And Rasputin knew how to use the trust the Tsar and his wife gave him to gain power. World War I broke out, and Rasputin “prophesized” that the war would go badly for Russia unless the Tsar went to the front and took personal command of the army. So, the Tsar did, leaving his wife, the German-born Tsarina Alexandra, in charge of the country. As it turns out, the war didn’t go so well for Russia even with the Tsar in command, and Rasputin became so close to Alexandra that he was able to put his cronies in charge of the government.

This, as it turns out, was the undoing of the Russian monarchy. Critics of the regime, who could be arrested for criticizing the tsar, could openly criticize “That freaky bearded wacko with a cult who has the palace captive.” It could be said that Rasputin helped bring about the Russian Revolution.

As you may have guessed, there were plenty of people who wanted Rasputin dead. In 1914, he was attacked by a woman who cut out his entrails. AND HE SURVIVED.

Eventually, someone did succeed at killing him, but it wasn’t easy. According to Felix Yuspov, his killer, he invited Rasputin to a party on December 16, 1916. He tried poisoning Rasputin with cyanide-laced cake and wine, but to no avail. Then, Yuspov shot Rasputin in the back. This didn’t work; Rasputin turned on Yuspov and attacked. Yuspov’s friends fired on the mystic, beat on him with clubs, wrapped him in a carpet, and threw him in a river. When Rasputin’s body was found four days later, the autopsy found his cause of death was drowning in the river.

Yet even this wasn’t the end of the story. According to one legend, when Rasputin’s body was cremated, it suddenly sat upright in the fire. A fittingly frightening ending to a frightening person.

Information from this article on Wikipedia.

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7 Responses to Awesome Villain In History: Rasputin

  1. AuntLeesie says:

    Maybe this had something to do with why my grandfather’s family left Russia before 1914?

    • delincolon says:

      Not at all. Rasputin tried to help the poor, the peasants, the underdogs. Your grandfather’s family left Russia because the Tsar’s policies and laws were abusive to anyone who wasn’t an aristocrat.

  2. Aaron Bevan says:

    I liked this report alot. I don’t know why I was drawn to it, but the information was pretty cool. Do a video on this next! Ab

  3. Gillson says:

    More evil bastards please

  4. delincolon says:

    Unfortunately, nearly all of this information is based on gossip that has been disseminated under the guise of history. Having read over a hundred books on Rasputin, and having written one, I think I can say I have some measure of expertise. First, Rasputin never cured the tsarevitch and never claimed he could. All he could do was alleviate the pain and symptoms. That’s why they kept him around. He never claimed to have supernatural powers, but as a hands-on (or empathic) healer, always said it was God doing the healing – that he was just an instrument of God. He was also somewhat psychic at times. He grew up with his father reading him the Bible, and had memorized many passages. He did spend time traveling around to different monasteries and went on religious pilgrimages.

    What you must understand about the tsarist regime in Russia is that it was very oppressive. Good for the nobles, not for the people. And the Jews especially suffered, as there were laws confining them to live in a certain area, prohibiting them from getting educations and having certain jobs. Then, also, there were the raids by the military (which the Tsar condoned) where entire villages of Jews would be tortured and slaughtered.

    Rasputin was horrified by any kind of violence and tried to help the Jews, as well as the underfed, overworked peasants on whose backs the nobility lived a life of luxury. Russian society hated Jews – the restrictive laws on the books prove that – as well as the raids. And anyone who spoke of granting the Jews equal rights was considered a traitor – because all Jews were considered to be spies and outsiders. So, Rasputin was hated by most of the aristocracy. The Tsar simply ignored his requests for freedom for the Jews.

    The aristocracy spread rumors to discredit him, painting him as a drunken womanizer. Of course it was a bit hypocritical, as most nobles consumed vodka and champagne by the case, and venereal diseases were common among them, due to their own promiscuity.

    When you look at political cartoons in the papers of that time, you can see that Rasputin was drawn the same way Jews were: as evil, demonic, filthy, greedy creatures. That’s how they attempted to sway public opinion.

    The ‘cronies’, as you call them, that Rasputin tried to have put on the Council were not people Rasputin knew well, but he tried to have the war mongering anti-Semites replaced with people who would allow ALL Russians equal rights and who would not foolishly enter wars, such as the Russo-Japanese War and World War I….

    Rasputin had nothing to do with the downfall of the Romanovs, nor the Russian Revolution (both which occurred the year after his death). The Tsar was a weak-willed, indecisive man who made poor decisions and cared nothing about the common people – even abused them. He was responsible for his own end. The Revolution (and there had been one before Rasputin ever left Siberia, too) happened because people were fed up with being overworked, underpaid, underfed and abused just so some aristocrats could live in luxury.

    Read more on “The Real Rasputin” website: http://therealrasputin.wordpress.com/
    See the book “Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History” on Amazon: http://amzn.to/tF4eWJ

  5. Pingback: Awesome Villain in History: Benedict Arnold « Cat Flag

  6. Pingback: Awesome Villain in History: William Walker | Cat Flag

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