The Mysterious Death of Grigori Rasputin

grigori rasputin

Grigori Rasputin

Grigori, or Grigory, Rasputin was a man who was known as many things. Some people called him the “Mad Monk.” Some people knew him as a different sort of holy man. Others saw him as a threat to Russia due to his mysterious relationship with Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra. It is certain that he was not a monk. However, whether he was a holy man or a fraud is up for debate. The question of whether he was a good influence on the royal family or the very reason that Tsar Nicholas II was the last emperor of Russia is also up for debate.

Rasputin may or may not have been a fraud with an uncanny influence over the tsar and tsarina of Russia. Either way, he was nearly unanimously distrusted and/or hated by the people of Russia. Whatever their reason for hating Rasputin, fear, distrust, jealousy or anger, their opinion was either ignored or simply unknown to the royal family (the Romanovs). Of course, many people would not have dared to do anything about it, for fear of incurring the anger of the tsar and tsarina. However, some did dare.

Grigori Rasputin was invited to visit the palace of Prince Felix Yussupov on the night of December 17, 1916. The pretense was that he was to see the prince’s wife-Irena. The truth of the matter was that Prince Felix, Vladimir Purishkevic, Dr. Lazaret (first name unknown) and the Great Duke Dimitri Romanov were planning to kill the suspicious ‘holy man.’

Prince Felix Yussupov had Rasputin taken to a dining room where there were refreshments awaiting him. These refreshments had been laced with poison. At first, it appeared as if Rasputin would not partake of them. Just when Prince Felix began to panic, Rasputin began eating and drinking (or so the story goes). For several hours, the soon-to-be murderers waited, yet Grigori showed virtually no signs of having been poisoned. In fact, he was quite active during that time.

In a fit of frustration, Prince Yussupov shot Grigori Rasputin in the back while he admired a decorative cross. At this point, the victim hit the floor. Felix went to his co-conspirators (who were apparently hiding in the palace) and told them what had taken place. When he returned to check the body, Rasputin supposedly leapt up and attacked the prince. Felix escaped his grasp and Rasputin hit the floor again, at which time Felix went to the other men and asked them to give him the gun. When they reentered the palace, Rasputin was supposedly making his way, crawling, up the stairs. He managed to get outside and began running from the palace.

Here is a good place to point out how ludicrous this story sounds. Of course, like many mysteries, it is possible, but improbable. How could a wounded and presumably poisoned man make it past four perfectly healthy men who are aiming to kill him, on or near a staircase of all places? Furthermore, at least one of those men was carrying a revolver. As mentioned above, it is possible, but imagine the scenario. It seems unlikely, right?

While Rasputin was running away, Vladimir apparently remembered he was trying to kill this man and that he had a gun, because he began to shoot several rounds at Grigori’s back. Two of these rounds managed to hit Rasputin in the back; one in the head. Rasputin fell to the ground, clutching his bleeding head. At this time, the obviously sadistic or vengeful, prince began beating Rasputin’s body. Shortly after, it was noticed that Grigori was still breathing. The men decided to wrap his body in some linen and dump Rasputin in the Neva River. When the body was discovered two days later, the cause of death was found to be drowning.

Prince Yussupov is often thought to be the main perpetrator of the death of Grigori Rasputin. Despite this, he was only exiled for the crime. Most of what we know about the murder of Rasputin comes from his telling of the tale. It is important to note that he was not embarrassed or secretive about the deed. In fact, he bragged about it. Whether he embellished in the telling of the story or not is a matter of speculation.

Grigori Rasputin Biography, retrieved 5/31/10.
Harding, Josh, The Death of Grigori Rasputin.

Shelly Barclay writes on a variety of topics from animal facts to mysteries in history. Her main focus is military and political history. She is a writer for the Boston History Examiner, Military History Examiner and the Boston American Revolution History Examiner. She also writes for a local historical society newsletter. Shelly was a professional cook for 10 years and still has a passion for food. She cooks and writes about cooking nearly every day. She produces a wide variety of content, on top of her niches. Shelly is a stepmother, a former military, current veteran wife, sister of four and aunt of seven (so far).