It’s a wonderful Friday. This week we’re going to take you back to 1916. Oh and we’re heading to Russia.
But before we get any further, let me reveal the answer to Wednesday’s riddle:
I’m skinny when I’m inside,
I’m fat when I’m outside,
My tears flow free when I’m folded in a corner against a wall.
What am I?
Answer: An umbrella.
Hope you could get it. If you couldn’t, you won’t stand a chance at solving our virtual mysteries/escape rooms that we’re currently beta testing…
Anyway, back to regular programming. We need to talk about Rasputin. The man’s life was absolutely shrouded in mystery. But we’re more interested in his death. Or rather...deaths?
Early life is pretty murky
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was born in Siberia, Russia in 1869.
According to one historian, Rasputin’s youth and early adulthood are “a black hole about which we know almost nothing.” That being said, there are a lot of stories about his youth that came about after Rasputin rose to fame.
These stories suggest an unruly youth that may or may not have included: stealing horses, blasphemy (apparently a crime?), small thefts, and drinking.
From what can be inferred, it also seems Rasputin was not formally educated and remained illiterate “well into adulthood.”
So how did this rascal rise to prominence with Russia’s royalty?
Healin’ his way to the top
After a failed attempt at becoming a monk, Rasputin married Praskovia Fyodorovna. The pair traveled to St. Petersburg in 1906.
Two years later, Rasputin was introduced to Czar Nicholas and his wife, who were seeking a cure for their son, Alexei, the heir to the throne. Records seem to suggest young Alexei was a hemophiliac.
Apparently Rasputin “cured” the boy and thus gained the trust of the royal family. There are varying reports about how he cured Alexei, ranging from hypnotism to dark magic.
Regardless of how he did it, Rasputin became the overseer of Alexei’s treatment the next five years. He used that influence to worm his way all the way in with the family.
This rubbed a LOT of those in court the wrong way. They saw a charlatan with too much influence that needed to be stopped.
So what happened next? Oh, just a ton of assassination attempts.
Assassins hate this one weird trick!
Attempt #1, 1914: Rasputin was stabbed in the gut by Khioniya Guseva, a prostitute. According to witnesses, his entrails fell from his stomach and Guseva shouted “I’ve killed the antichrist!” He survived.
Attempt #2, 1916: A group of conspirators that included Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich and Prince Felix Yusupov lured Rasputin into the Yusupov home. They then fed Rasputin cakes and wine laced with cyanide. Although it was reportedly enough poison to “kill five men,” our boy Rasputin was unaffected.
Attempts #3-5, 1916: Right after the cyanide didn’t do the trick, the group of conspirators from Attempt #2 above decided they weren’t done. They followed up the botched attempt by beating him repeatedly and shooting him in the back (#3). Some reports indicate that he jumped off the floor after being shot, only to be shot several more times (#4). Then, the men wrapped his body in a carpet and tossed him into the Neva River (#5).
Three days later, his body was pulled from the water. Autopsy reports differ but most say that he was still alive when he was thrown into the water. Exact cause of death is unknown - some say hypothermia, others say he drowned.
It’s worth that Rasputin once told the Czar:
“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!”
His words came true less than 2 years later when the entire family was murdered….
Deeper dives - but without the drowning
We focused on the assassination attempts in this write up, but there’s enough out there about Rasputin to fill quite a few posts. Check out the 2-part Unexplained Mysteries podcast on the “Mad Monk” below if you want to keep diving!
-Andy & Mark
Pssst. Hey! You. Yeah, you, the one still reading. Question: are you a true fan of Mystery and Crime? If so, join our officialMystery Nibbles Facebook group and our officialSubReddit. We discuss all the goods: mysteries, crime, and anything ‘spicious.