This Day In History: Rasputin Is Killed (1916)

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On this date in 1916, one of the most notorious figures in Russian history is murdered. On the night of December, the 29-30th the self-proclaimed healer and holy man was murdered by some nobles. Grigory Efimovich Rasputin was killed by them because they feared his growing influence over the Tsar and his family.

Rasputin, was born in remote Siberia and he apparently had a religious conversion and proclaimed to anyone who would listen that he had been anointed by God to heal people and that he also had the power to see into the future. He appears to have travelled widely and possibly even travelled to the Hold Land.  He had the ability to convince people that he had cured them. The heir of the Tsar had haemophilia a very dangerous medical condition, that often involves severe bleeding. Rasputin was somehow able to stop the bleeding of the young prince. Czarina Alexandra was very impressed by the powers of the Siberian holy man. The Czar too also believed that Rasputin had special powers.  This meant that Rasputin was a powerful figure at the court of the Tsar. Many believed that he had too much influence and that this was one of the reasons why Russia was losing the war.  The personal behavior of Rasputin was also shocking and he became notorious for his lechery and drunkenness. He was believed to have had countless affairs with many leading noblewomen and there were whispers that he even had an affair with the Czarina. Soon Rasputin was the most hated man in the Russian Empire. The Tsar was forced to take personal command of the Russian army after a series of German victories.  The Czarina was left in charge of the Royal Court and many worried that she was under the control of Rasputin.

Rasputin 2
The Tsar and his family in 1914

A group of nobles conspired to end Rasputin’s influence in order to save Russia. The conspirators were led by   Prince Felix Youssupov,  related by marriage to the Czarina, and the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, the first cousin of the Tsar. They lured the Siberian holy man to a feast, they knew he could not resist free drink and food.  The conspirators gave him poisoned food and drink but this did not have any effect on the holy man. The nobles then shot him at close range and they believed that they had killed him. They left him for dead but as they were leaving Rasputin revived and they beat him mercilessly and then threw him into the ice-cold river. He was later found floating in the river, dead, some days later.  The main conspirators were later tried and sent to Siberia. The murder of Rasputin did not save Russia or the Imperial Family.  In 1917 there was a Revolution which saw Russian withdraw from the war and the overthrow of the Tsar.

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