"The powers of evil." The true story behind the gruesome murder of Russia's Rasputin.

The true story of the rise and fall of the Romanov dynasty has been documented in pop culture time and time again.

From the fictional retelling in animated film Anastasia to new Netflix docuseries The Last Czars, the family have long been the fodder for a great historical tale.

But while stories about the Russian imperial family are still being told over a century on from their execution, there’s one particular figure from that time in history who has stood out among the rest – Grigori Rasputin.

In fact, few stories in Russian history are as well-known as that of the infamous mystic and ‘Mad Monk’.

Netflix series The Last Czars is the Russian answer to The Crown. Watch the trailer below. Post continues after video.

For centuries, the House of Romanov were the reigning royal house of Russia. But it wasn’t until the family were nearing the end of their reign when self-proclaimed holy man Rasputin entered the picture.

In a move which would ultimately cause a great deal of controversy among the Russian public, the faith healer’s influence over the Romanovs – particularly Nicholas II’s wife Czarina Alexandra – grew as the family became convinced that Rasputin could heal their son Alexei’s hemophilia through prayer.

At the time, hemophilia often resulted in death at a young age and as Alexei was the couple’s only son (they also had four daughters – Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia), they were willing to try just about anything to alleviate his condition.

But as the Romanovs decided to keep Alexei’s condition a secret to anyone outside of their household, rumours began to spread about Rasputin’s role in the family

Before long, Rasputin’s close relationship with the family spurred rumours of an affair between Rasputin and Alexandra, and even rumours of relationships between the so-called “sex machine” and the Czar’s four daughters.

Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra in The Last Czars. Image: Netflix.

In September 1915, Nicholas II took control as the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian army during World War One, spelling even more trouble for the Romanovs.

With Alexandra left virtually ruling, many Russians began to wonder whether Rasputin was actually pulling her strings and leading the country behind the scenes.

Before long, a group of conspirators began to plot to murder the mystic.

On a December night in 1916, Prince Felix Yusupov, who was married to the Czar's niece, Irina, invited Rasputin to his palace in St Petersburg, under the premise that Irina wanted to meet the mystic.

When he arrived, however, Irina wasn't there after all.

Although there are numerous conflicting claims about what happened next, it's believed that Yusupov led Rasputin to a basement, where he fed him cake and served him Madiera wine – both poisoned with potassium cyanide.

Rasputin and his admirers. Image: Getty.

While they were in the basement, Yusupov's co-conspirators played the song 'Yankee Doodle' on the gramophone upstairs while faking a party.

But weirdly enough, Rasputin kept eating the cakes and drinking the wine.

The poison appeared to take no effect.


"Rasputin had eaten all the cakes and drunk two glasses of poisoned wine and nothing has happened, absolutely nothing," author and historian Andrew Cook wrote in his book To Kill Rasputin: The Life and Death of Grigori Rasputin.

"Rasputin was belching and dribbling, but that was about it."

With the poison failing to take effect, his assassins decided to take a more direct approach.

Yusupov took a revolver, and while the 'Mad Monk' was distracted, he shot him in the back.

Rasputin was widely known as the 'Mad Monk'. Image: Getty.

What happened next is unclear.

According to some reports, after being shot and falling to the ground, Rasputin suddenly leapt up and attacked Yusupov.

“This devil who was dying of poison, who had a bullet in his heart, must have been raised from the dead by the powers of evil," Yusupov wrote in his memoir.

"There was something appalling and monstrous in his diabolical refusal to die.”

As Yusupov fled the basement in search of his revolver, it's believed Rasputin made his way upstairs and into the palace's courtyard.

Finally, Rasputin was shot by Yusupov's co-conspirator and right-wing politician Vladimir Purishkevich in the back and then again in the head.

It is unclear whether Rasputin died immediately after being shot in the head, with some rumours claiming that the mystic managed to survive the gunshots.

Fearing that Rasputin was immune to death, the men wrapped Rasputin's body in linen and dumped it in the Malaya Nevka River.

It's long been reported that when Rasputin's body was retrieved from the river, it appeared as if he had tried to claw his way out from icy river.

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