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Rasputin, Grigoriĭ Efimovich


Russian religious figure; b. Pokrovskoe, Tobolsk Province, Siberia, c. 1871; d. Petrograd, Dec. 16, 1916. He came of a peasant family surnamed Novykh, received little formal education, and married in 1895. In 1904 he left his wife and three children to lead a wandering life. His pilgrimages to holy places took him to Mt. Athos and Jerusalem. As suited his passionate, superstitious character, he joined the Khlysty (People of God), a pantheistic, blasphemous sect that mingled emotional religion with debauchery. At this time he changed his name to Rasputin (licentious) and advocated the commission of sin in order to gain forgiveness. His excesses and violent acts of repentance impressed the peasants, who regarded him as a holy man with remarkable supernatural powers. Rasputin's reputation as a thaumaturge led to his introduction to the royal family (1907), on whom he made a lasting impression by seeming to cure the czarevich Alexis of hemophilia. Czar Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra were convinced that Rasputin was sent by God, and accepted his advice on matters of state. Soon Rasputin dictated the choice of cabinet ministers and Orthodox bishops. His reputation increased among the populace after an unsuccessful attempt on his life in 1914, engineered by Heliodor, a well-known monk. Rasputin's ignorance of political affairs made him a pawn for reactionaries, who courted his friendship and imparted to him the ideas that he passed on to the Czar. Rasputin was shot to death in an assassination plot led by Grand Duke Dimitry Pavlovich, Prince Yussopov, and other nobles. At Empress Alexandra's orders Rasputin was buried with solemnity near the royal family's chapel in the imperial palace at Tsarkoe Selo (now Pushkin); but after the 1917 revolution a mob dug up the cadaver and burned it.

Bibliography: s. m. trufanov, The Mad Monk of Russia, tr. from Russian (New York 1918). e. radziwill, Rasputin and the Russian Revolution (New York 1918). r. t. m. scott, The Mad Monk (New York 1931). r. fÜlÖp-miller, Rasputin, the Holy Devil, tr. f. s. flint and d. f. tait (New York 1928). h. liepmann, Rasputin and the Fall of Imperial Russia, tr. e. fitzgerald (New York 1959).

[g. a. maloney]

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