Most people have heard of Anastasia, the daughter of Czar Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna who, according to a trove of rumors, survived her family’s extrajudicial murder in July 1918. Though the rumors were later disproved, general fascination with Anastasia and the tragic story of Imperial Russia’s final sovereign family has garnered extensive attention and even an animated movie, Anastasia, released in 1997.
Though the movie wasn’t historically accurate, Rasputin, the minion-dispatching menace did exist. According to many eyewitness testimonies, the “man who wouldn’t die” was just as intriguing as the royal family itself.
The Early Years Of Rasputin
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was born in Siberia, Russia in 1869. From an early age, villagers noticed something different about the young boy, and many claimed he had supernatural powers. As a teenager, Rasputin went to Verkhoture Monastery in Russia hoping to become a monk. He never completed the program, however, and instead married at age 19 to wife Praskovia Fyodorovna, with whom he had three children.
Within two short years following his 1906 arrival in Saint Petersburg, Rasputin was introduced to Czar Nicholas and his wife, both desperately seeking a cure for their son, Alexei, the heir to the throne. Historians now know that Alexei was hemophiliac, though at the time the royal family chalked his health problems up to a weak constitution. Rasputin successfully “cured” Alexei, gaining the trust of Alexandra in the process. While some claim that Rasputin hypnotized the boy, others say it was dark magic, and still others wonder if the “mad monk” had any healing powers to begin with.
For the next five years or so, Rasputin held a large influence over Alexei’s treatment, however, Rasputin’s presence in the palace and his time spent with Alexandra prompted a number of harsh critiques on the royal family’s credibility. Rasputin’s lewd, unruly behavior and his insistence that he was the czarina’s adviser proved a bone of contention between the royal family and Russian constituents. Alexandra often defended Rasputin from the many advisers and officers who sought his removal from the royal palace as she claimed that he was the only one who could save her son.