Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was one of the most controversial figures in Russian history. From his arrival at the Russian court through to the incredible night of his death, the mystical ‘monk’ was one of the pivotal figures in the fall of the Russian Royal Family. Here are a few key Rasputin facts.

Rasputin was illiterate

In his early days, Rasputin had a very sparse education. He left school at the age of eight and was unable to read or write. He was born in the tiny Siberian village of Pokrovskoye in 1869 and after turning his back on a traditional education, he found himself at the Verkhoture Monastery.

Rasputin wasn’t a monk

Not in the literal sense of the word anyway. Although he attended the Verkhoture Monastery, he left and had returned to his home village by the age of 19. He certainly hadn’t completed his training by this time.

Although he was generally known as ‘The Monk’ during his lifetime and certainly as ‘The Mad Monk’ after his death, it is likely that he was a self-acclaimed ‘monk’, but on what basis Rasputin made this assertion is unclear.

Rasputin wasn’t a mystic

Among the Russian public and, indeed, the Russian Royal Family, Rasputin had become something of a self proclaimed ‘mystic’.

These ‘powers’ were first claimed by Rasputin when he left home to travel around Greece and the Middle East. There he made money from donations given to him in return for his attempts to tell fortunes and to heal the sick.

Rasputin’s early life

Rasputin was born into a peasant family on 10th of January 1869 in the tiny Siberian village of Pokrovskoye. Although he did briefly attend school he was unable to read or write and his life took him to the Verkhoture Monastery. However, after initial training he decided against becoming a monk and at the age of 19, he returned to his home village and was married. He had three children with his wife Proskovia Fyodorovna.

The first signs of the debauched lifestyle that he was so often accused with came when he had a child with another woman during his marriage.

His Healing Powers

While documentary evidence of his so-called healing powers is a little scant, many people believed that he possessed mystical skill in healing the sick and the lame.

His most famous act of healing introduced him to the Russian court when he supposedly cured the Tsar and Tsarina’s haemophiliac son Alexis. After a heavy bought of bleeding, Rasputin was called to Alexis’ side and he managed to stem the flow – an act that saw him welcomed into the Russian court and that in turn would change history.

Under Rasputin’s spell

During the First World War, the Tsar followed a rather romantic notion that he should lead his own troops into battle and as such, he was away from the royal palace.

It was here that Rasputin began to exert his influence over the Tsarina. Whether it was hypnosis or some other mystical attraction, the ‘monk’ began to have his say in decisions of court including the removal of certain ministers. These actions would eventually lead to his downfall.

Rasputin predicted his own death

In a chilling prophecy, Rasputin predicted that he would soon be killed but that he was unclear as to who would commit the act. His words are certainly worth repeating,

“I am to be killed, “he told the Royal Court “If I am killed by my own people, by the peasants, then you will continue to rule in peace and harmony. However, if I am killed by the noble class, then within two years, you and your children and all the royal family will be no more.”

He ‘refused to die’

The circumstances of Rasputin’s death are just as remarkable as his life and although some of the ‘facts’ may be shrouded in myth, it is certain that he took an incredible amount of time to die.

On December 16th 1916, a group of nobles led by Felix Yusupov lured him into their company. It was said that he ingested enough poison to kill five men but showed no ill effects whatsoever. Eventually, after being shot and badly beaten, his body was dragged from the Neva River the next day. In a very short space of time, the prophecy of his own death was to come true as the Russian revolution swept aside the Russian monarchy.

Rasputin quotes

Rasputin’s most famous quote was about his own death…

“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.”

Rasputin had little real medical training, and his advice to Alexandra sounds pretty trite when quoted today. Examples of the advice he gave Alexandra include the following Rasputin quotes:

“Don’t let the doctors bother him too much; let him rest.”

“God has seen your tears and heard your prayers. Fear not, the child will not die.”