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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > June 2016 > The Mad Monk Rasputin

The Mad Monk Rasputin

He was a peasant who sexed his way to the heights of Imperial Russia, only to oversee its destruction, writes Jonny Wilkes
EVIL EYE Rasputin used his hypnotic gaze – seen in this recently colourised photo – among other attributes, to become the most influential person in Russia

Mysterious powers and eyes able to hypnotise; a penchant for bedding women despite his grubby disregard for personal hygiene; a dishevelled, tramp-like figure; preaching about how his constant, womanising was the key to spiritual salvation; a fondness for guzzling bottles of wine on a daily basis; and an assassination that saw him poisoned, beaten, shot and dumped in a freezing river – these are just some of the legends surrounding the life, and death, of Rasputin.

In pre-revolutionary Russia, there was no-one more divisive than this megalomaniac mystic. 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, on 30 December 1916, was necessary to save the country from catastrophe. Yet, as the numerous attempts required to finish him off ff seemed to demonstrate, Rasputin’s influence was devilishly difficult to stamp out.

FAMILY MAN? Despite his reputation, Rasputin was married and had three children – Maria (far left) was devoted to her father, who she believed was a pious holy man
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The June 2016 issue of History Revealed