Monsters Among Us: Rasputin – The Mad Monk
Note: This article was originally posted for our “100 Days of Halloween” campaign in 2014. It has been updated in 2017.
So far in our list of human monsters we have had a with a lust for blood, a French war hero turned sadistic serial killer, and the necrophiliac who inspired several of our modern day horror icons.
You might scratch your head, then, at our next guest: Grigori Rasputin. While Rasputin may look docile in comparison to our previous entries, he was in life, and is still in legend, a case of strangeness, exaggerated facts, and disconcerting truths.
Rasputin was born a peasant in a small Siberian village. His father was a horse thief, and he had two siblings, both of which died at an early age. His sister died drowning in a river, and his brother fell into a river and later died of pneumonia. (Rasputin jumped into the river after his brother in an attempt to save him.)
Growing up, he took quickly to alcohol and small, violent crimes, and when punishment caught up with him, Rasputin asked to be sent to a monastery. And here is where Rasputin became the legendary “Mad Monk.”
Even from a young age, it is said that Rasputin displayed a penchant for prophecy, and this combined with an apparent healing ability caused his name to spread as he wandered from place to place.
Rasputin harnessed a power of mesmerizing people with his eyes. He knew how to influence people simply by using his bold and unsettling stare.
He landed within the graces of the Czar and Czarina after healing their son of hemophilia (or so the story goes), and used his charisma to become the Czarina’s favored advisor. This was amazing considering the man was the epitome of bad hygiene, himself once claiming to have not changed his underwear for six months.
Many hated this, and aristocratic rumors muddle the history of what is true and what is false.
Rasputin was accused of being a member of khlysty, a zealous sect who believed in ridding themselves of sin through ecstatic rituals (rumored to turn into orgies). Scandalous articles spread like wildfire, claiming the Mad Monk had slept with the Czarina and each of the young royal duchesses, seducing women in the aristocracy and keeping several prostitutes nearby.
It was believed he would force women to lick his dirty fingers for pleasure or entertainment. Some even went so far as to accuse him of practicing sorcery. History has leaned in the favor of the royal family, denying those myths, but it stands that Rasputin’s reputation was nothing if not soiled.
What we do know is he influenced the country for the worse, taking bribes and influencing the election of questionable authority. His relationship and influence with the Czar and his family eventually led to their downfall.
Perhaps Rasputin’s most infamous moment lies in the events surrounding his death, and again reality blends with the legend here. What is most often recounted is that a group of aristocrats had cakes and wine served to him laced with cyanide, and when that didn’t do the trick, they shot him.
However, Rasputin rose from the attack and attacked one of the men in return, nearly strangling him to death and attempted to flee. The men shot the “Holy Devil” in the back three times, but Rasputin was still struggling to get away.
Finally, they clubbed him, tied his hands and feet, rolled him up in a rug, and dumped him into a river. His body was found three days after the assassination, and as the story goes, had water in his lungs.
Perhaps Rasputin was not one of history’s worst serial killers or deranged men, but the record of his life is surrounded by questionable events and strange claims. If nothing else, the man was an eccentric with far too much power under his puppet strings, which proved too much for his own good.
What we have is a criminal turned religious leader with significant personal magnetism, despite his unorthodox appearance and manners. Rasputin was a man who had become drunk with his own lust for power and sway. Using his influence as a faith healer and prophet, and all the mystery that surrounds that impression, he abused his “gifts” and talents to fulfill his own criminal intent and sick fetishes.
As much, or perhaps more, a monster as murderers and body snatchers.
What do you think?
One thing is for sure. There are…Monsters Among Us!
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