Rasputin Didn’t Die Like The Legends Say

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.” —Calvin Coolidge

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.

Show Me The Proof

BBC News: Rasputin myth ‘debunked’
BBC Press Office: Rasputin assassinated by British Secret Service
The Telegraph: British spy ‘fired the shot that finished off Rasputin’

  • Check

    Ah, the British, again. World movers and shakers for many a year.

    • inconspicuous detective

      they like to play up the positives of their efforts.

  • lbatfish

    I’ve read several accounts of his death, all of which repeated basically the same gee-whiz story that you made mention of.

    But considering that the most scholarly of these sources was probably Reader’s Digest, it was nice to read something about it that seemed more interested in laying out the facts of the matter than in providing a gripping tale of supernatural intrigue.

    • Passin’ Through

      I’m not so sure. I can’t say the traditional theory is iron clad, but these “facts” are just as fantastic.

  • Marozia

    It’s not Tsarina it’s Tsaritsa. And it’s true, Rasputin WAS a BI operative. When they get out of hand, that’s when they are terminated.

  • percynjpn

    Though perhaps in no way relevant, I heard he also had like a 12″ dong.

    • heli chopter

      That’s just part of the mystery.

      • lbatfish

        According to legend, when God asked him before birth what kind of “wiener” he wanted, Rasputin replied, “Is it okay if I get a foot-long?”

        • heli chopter

          And he was promptly charged $5

          • lbatfish

            But still . . . a bargain at the price!

          • heli chopter

            Just imagine what he would have gotten for $20

          • lbatfish

            According to rumor, that’s what Putin paid for his.

          • heli chopter

            Hmmm, maybe there are things we shouldn’t know. For all our sakes.

        • percynjpn

          You’re killing me! Though without the gunfire, poison and frozen Russian river – well-played indeed.

      • Dogue

        Oh god, please no!!! (runs and hides)

    • Hillyard

      His alleged appendage is on display at the Russian Museum of Erotica in St. Petersburg.


      • Lisa 39

        I so wish i hadn’t looked.

  • TheMadHatter

    “Have I gone mad?
    I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

  • UN

    I saw Rasputin image and i immediately knew i was reading this….the guy has such element of mystery to him

  • oouchan

    Well…we might not know what happened, but he was seen as a demon…that is true. I found his life and what he did interesting, even though he was a jerk.


  • Passin’ Through

    I applaud the author for writing an intriguing article but the sources don’t fill me with confidence that this was the way it happened. I’m not saying the traditional story of poisoning, shooting, stabbing, drowning and possible signs of life is 100% believable, but in some ways this theory is MORE unbelievable.

    The documentary referenced in the sources claims all the above happened THEN he was shot by a British spy. Another source claims it was a jilted homosexual lover who killed him.

    Smells fishy to me.

    • inconspicuous detective

      i think that if we’re to go with the story we’re aware of, he’d probably been hit with all of those things at once (such as poisoned, then attacked with knives, then shot as he ran, all the while he would have died anyway from the poisoning). seems likely considering that he was “mystical” to the point of being a threat that they’d go overkill to get rid of him in one go. that he seemingly “keep living” was just a self – fulfilling prophesy.

  • Vierotchka

    He was neither mad nor a monk.