Rasputin, Grigori Yefimovich

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (răspyōō´tĬn, Rus. grĬgô´rē yĬfē´məvĬch rəspōō´tyĬn), 1869–1916, Russian holy man and courtier, a notorious figure at the court of Czar Nicholas II. He was a semiliterate peasant and debauchee who preached and practiced a doctrine of salvation that mixed religious fervor with sexual indulgence. Because of his personal magnetism and his ability to check the bleeding of the czarevich Alexis, who suffered from hemophilia, Rasputin gained a powerful hold over Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna and, through her, over the czar, and from 1911 Rasputin's appointees began to fill high positions. Rasputin never had a clear political program, but unscrupulous and reactionary officials, financiers, and ecclesiastics profited through his influence. During World War I, when the czar went (1915) to the front, Rasputin's influence predominated. Those who opposed him were often removed from their posts; fortune hunters and incompetents were appointed to replace them. Rasputin's disgraceful behavior, the czarina's attempts to shield him, and a series of scandals involving his appointees helped to undermine the imperial government. Suspecting that Rasputin and the czarina were working for a separate peace with Germany, a group of right-wing patriots, including Prince Felix Yussupov and the czar's cousin, Grand Duke Dmitri, conspired in Dec., 1916, to assassinate Rasputin. A generous dose of poison failed to produce any visible effect, and the terrified conspirators riddled him with bullets and threw his body into the frozen Neva River. Later buried, Rasputin's corpse was exhumed and burned by the mob during the February Revolution of 1917.

See biographies by Prince F. F. Yussupov (1927), R. Fülöp-Miller (tr. 1928), and D. Smith (2016); studies by M. V. Rodzianko (tr. 1927 and 1973) and E. Radzinsky (tr. 2000).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Rasputin: Selected full-text books and articles

The Fall of the Russian Monarchy: A Study of the Evidence By Bernard Pares Jonathan Cape, 1939
Librarian's tip: Chap. V "Rasputin"
Nicholas II: The Life and Reign of Russia's Last Monarch By Robert D. Warth Praeger, 1997
Librarian's tip: Chap. 9 "Rasputin and His Predecessors"
Revolution and Reality: Essays on the Origin and Fate of the Soviet System By Bertram D. Wolfe University of North Carolina Press, 1981
Librarian's tip: Chap. 2 "The Reign of Alexandra and Rasputin"
Twentieth Century Russia By Donald W. Treadgold; Herbert J. Ellison Westview Press, 2000 (9th edition)
Librarian's tip: "The Ascendancy of Rasputin" begins on p. 81
Endurance and Endeavour: Russian History, 1812-1992 By J. N. Westwood Oxford University Press, 1993 (4th edition)
Librarian's tip: "The Empress and Rasputin" begins on p. 221
Russia, Past and Present By Anatole G. Mazour D. Van Nostrand, 1951
Librarian's tip: "The Role of Rasputin" begins on p. 405
Rise and Fall of the Romanovs By Anatole G. Mazour Van Nostrand, 1960
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Rasputin begins on p. 176
The Russian Revolutions of 1917 By John Shelton Curtiss D. Van Nostrand, 1957
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Rasputin begins on p. 110
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