Friday, February 24, 2012

Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin (Russian mystic)

Rasputin, Grigori Efimovich (1871?-1916), a Russian mystic who exercised almost limitless influence over the imperial court in the decade preceding the Russian Revolution. His interference in state and church affairs and his immoral personal life discredited the monarchy and led to his assassination.

Rasputin was born in a Siberian village, the son of a peasant whose family name was Novikh. His behavior as a youth gained him the nickname Rasputin, which means dissolute or profligate. In 1903 or 1904, he abandoned his wife and children to wander about Russia, claiming that he was following the will of God. He preached that people must sin in order to win salvation through repentance. Though crude, unkempt, and nearly illiterate, Rasputin possessed great self-assurance and an almost hypnotic personality. He dressed like a monk, although he never was one, and came to be regarded as "a man of God" by the peasants.

In 1905 Rasputin was introduced to Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, as one who reputedly could perform acts of faith healing. He succeeded in easing the bleeding attacks of their son, Alexis, heir to the throne, who suffered from hemophilia. Rasputin thus won the devotion of the czar and, especially, of Alexandra. Through this relationship, he secured important church and state positions for people he favored, many of whom were ill-qualified. Gradually he came to dominate the church and the imperial court. Meanwhile, his private life was causing scandal.

In December, 1916, a group of discontented aristocrats, led by Prince Felix Yusupov, murdered Rasputin-allegedly to rid Russia of his evil influence. According to the conspirators, Rasputin remained alive after being poisoned, shot, and clubbed; he died only after he was thrown into the Neva River.

No comments: