In A Nutshell
The legends claim that, in 1916, Rasputin was poisoned, shot, beaten, and finally drowned before he died, and that even after all of the punishment he took, he was still found trying to claw his way out of the ice after the attempted drowning. However, historians have long believed that his killer made up the story to make Rasputin out to be some sort of otherworldy demon that he triumphed over.
The Whole Bushel
Rasputin is one of the strangest figures in history. He was known for all sorts of negative things, from being dirty and smelly to being a notorious sex hound. But while his habits were far from saintly for a monk, it wasn’t his love of drinking or going out for numerous sexual encounters that earned him the ire of others.
The crazy mystic started from rather poor beginnings, but due to medical knowledge he picked up somewhere in life he was able to help the czarina’s young son with his hemophilia. Due to his own rather gross brand of charm, and his gift of making people think he had the ability to predict the future, he soon became very popular and influential in the czar’s court.
Of course, this led many people to care rather less for the man, as those who want power generally want to remove others who are in their way. The mad monk had many enemies among the Russian nobility, and some of them were people he was normally on friendly terms with. However, he ended up at the house of Prince Yussupov who conspired with several other nobles to end this dangerous threat to their power once and for all. There are various slight differences among the legends, but most agree that they began by poisoning Rasputin. When it seemed to have no real effect, they shot him. The monk still showed signs of life, so they beat him awhile and shot him some more. After that, he still limped out into the courtyard—drowning finally finished him off. In many versions of the legend, his body is later found and shows some last signs of vitality, as if he was trying to claw his way out of the ice.
While many people have doubted the veracity of such a tall tale for a while, evidence has recently come to light that suggests that the prince did indeed embellish the story. It might seem odd to create a story in which you poison a friend of yours and then brutally murder their body over and over, but many historians think it’s more likely the legend was concocted to drum up support for the murder of Rasputin. If the mad monk were seen as an otherworldly demon who protected himself with black magic, then it would be much easier to justify cold-blooded, politically motivated murder.
An even more recent investigation suggests, however, that Rasputin’s murder was far more than just an inner power struggle among Russian nobles. The investigation suggests that British agents were involved in the death of Rasputin and that the final bullet may indeed have been fired by a British assassin. The historian’s explanation is that with the influence that Rasputin had over the czar’s court, he may have caused the czar to make decisions that would be disastrous for the European war effort. The British may have become involved in order to ensure that Rasputin, who’s code name among British operatives was “Dark Forces,” would not cause any serious trouble. Unfortunately for the mad monk, this meant he needed to be eliminated.