Okay okay this story is too good, I’ve gotta tell it myself.
This? Is Grigori Rasputin.
He was born a peasant in Imperial Russia in 1869. We really don’t know much about his early life or his parents, because no one gave a shit about peasants in Siberia in 1869.
We do know that in 1886 he met and married a fellow peasant, a girl named Praskovya Dubrovina. They settled in Pokrovskoye. They had seven children, three of whom survived to adulthood. She remained devoted to him throughout his later deeds, infamy, and death.
This is where shit starts getting wild.
Sometime in 1897, Rasputin started getting seriously into religion, and left Pokrovskoye to go on pilgrimage. Why? We don’t really know. Some people claim he had a vision. Some claim he met a scholar and was impressed by their knowledge. Anyway, he traveled to the St. Nicholas Monastery at Verkhoturyem, where he remained for months, studying with an elder by the name of Makary. It is likely he learned to read and write here.
He eventually left the monastery, complaining that life there was too ‘coercive’ and that many of the monks engaged in 'homosexual acts’, which TBH good on you, monks.
If you were wondering “So, what does one do after you leave a monastery after months of study, and have a young wife and some kids at home?”
If you answered “Denounce booze, become a vegetarian, grow some wild hair and become a wandering pilgrim, singing and praying fervently as you go” then congrats! You’re thinking like Rasputin!
Somehow, doing this attracted him a group of disciples. They got up to some pretty wild shit, and there have been rumors that they joined a sect known as the khlysty, who engaged in self flagellation and also sexual orgies.
It should be mentioned here that he was, apparently, hung like a fucking horse and his penis, severed post mortem, is now pickled in a jar.
Anyway, moving on.
Word of this weird holy man spread, and he gained a reputation as someone who could heal people of maladies and hysteria, possibly by having sex with every woman he could. He SOMEHOW managed to wrangle a letter of recommendation to a monastery in St. Petersburg, and upon arriving somehow impressed people so much that he was eventually introduced to Tsar Nicholas II.
It’s noted that he had great charisma and was very compelling. He also wasn’t stupid, and immediately buttered up to the royal family as much as possible.
Much of his influence over the royal family was due to the fact that he was the only one who could seem to successfully treat their son, Alexei. Alexei was hemophiliac, and suffered considerably. He was the only son, and the fate of the dynasty hung on him, and of course then he was fretted over.
Rasputin did seem to honestly be able to ease Alexei’s suffering and several times managed to save him when the court doctors had given the boy up for dead. How? We’ve got no idea. Magic, probably.
The problems here came because Rasputin’s dick was well known in St. Petersburg, and rumors began to fly that he was serving that sausage up to the Empress. She did keep him close and write uncommonly intimate and familiar letters to him, but we don’t honestly know for sure if the rumors were true.
Anyway. The late days of the Romanov dynasty were a hot mess of political, religious, and social turmoil anyway, and Rasputin was basically a match to tinder. He had too much influence, he was too strange.
The first assassination attempt came when a peasant woman attempted to stab him to death. He was injured, but recovered, and was unnerved by the attack. He began to drink again.
The assassination attempt (and attempt, and attempt, and attempt) that would go down in legend came when a group of nobles led by Prince Felix Yusupov decided at last that Rasputin had too much influence for a peasant and must be removed.
Rasputin had a sweet tooth. So, his assassins laced a tray of cakes with enough cyanide to kill an elephant, and dumped another few doses into the wine to be sure. Then they lured him to Yusupov’s home with the promise that he could have sex with Yusupov’s wife and left the cakes and wine on the table. Rasputin tucked in, eating enough poison to kill ten men.
And it didn’t do a goddamned thing.
Finally, in desperation, they shot him in the chest. Figuring that did it, they dressed one guy up in Rasputin’s hat and coat and drove him back to Rasputin’s place to make it look like Rasputin had left.
When they got back, though, Rasputin jumped up and attacked Yusupov, who fought him off. Chased by a man who should be twice dead, Yusupov fled into the courtyard. There Rasputin was shot a second time, and stopped. A third shot, and he collapsed. He was still trying to crawl, though, and they beat and kicked at him for a bit, wrapped him in a carpet and dumped him into the Nevka river.
The news of the murder got out almost immediately. When they finally fished the body out of the river and performed an autopsy, it was discovered that the cause of death had been drowning.
The poison hadn’t done it. Three bullets hadn’t done it. The beating hadn’t done it. The river finally had.
And that is why jokes about anesthetizing Rasputin by smashing him in the face are hilarious.