History Lessons with Heather: Rasputin

10 Feb

Now that I have tired of the controversy that my post “Two Thoughts on the Superbowl” caused, I have decided to add a new feature to my blog called “History Lessons with Heather”. History is quite possibly one of the most important subjects one can study. Although you will find that most people equate the study of history to underwater basket weaving, and if you do study history in college, many will simply squint and ask, “So you want to teach?”, it is still one of the most useful and interesting subjects one can undertake.

Rasputin: owner of big hands and another big thing.

The first subject of “History Lessons” is Grigori Rasputin (1869-1916), or the “Mad Monk,” a Russian mystic hired by Tsaritsa Alexandra to heal her son, Tsarevich Alexei, of hemophilia. Rasputin, born in Siberia in 1869, reportedly had mysterious powers early on in life, though he did not gain a following until he arrived in St. Petersburg in 1903.

Alexandra, wife to Tsar Nicholas II, heard through the grapevine that Rasputin could potentially heal Alexei of his hemophilia. It is unclear what Rasputin did for Alexei, but many believe that he hypnotized the young royal. Hypnotism lowers stress levels and it could have allowed Alexei to rest long enough to allow his body to heal itself. Alexandra called for Rasputin each time Alexei had an injury, and Rasputin was always able to alleviate his symptoms.

Rasputin’s involvement with Alexandra did not stop with Alexei. Many believe that Rasputin was politically influential and contributed to the demise of the Russian empire. Rasputin advised the Tsar to lead his army in World War I, and while he was away, Rasputin took it upon himself to appoint personal acquaintances to government posts. Rasputin’s personal beliefs were akin to a self-developed spirituality, and he believed that to achieve repentance from God, one had to sin. Rasputin purposely participated in excessive sex and drinking to become closer to God.

The most interesting thing about Rasputin is not his life, but his death. Rasputin was murdered by a group of nobles, among them Prince Felix Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich. First, the men tried to poison Rasputin with wine and cakes laced with cyanide. Rasputin was reportedly unaffected by the poison (though many believe that he developed a tolerance for large amounts of poison), and the men then resorted to shooting Rasputin. After he was shot once, Rasputin apparently lunged at Yusupov to defend himself, at which time he was shot two more times. The conspirators, shocked that Rasputin was still alive, continued their task by clubbing Rasputin repeatedly and then binding and wrapping him in a carpet, which they then dumped in the Neva River. The river, icy due to freezing December weather, was the final foil for Rasputin. When pulled from the water, it was evident that Rasputin freed himself from the binding – some say that his arms were sticking straight above his head when he was found. An autopsy determined that Rasputin had water in his lungs – the “Mad Monk” could not be destroyed by poisoning, shooting, or beating – only a force of nature could claim the man whose powers some believe were at odds with nature.

One of the items that fascinates me most about Rasputin are the rumors surrounding his sexual appetite and menagerie of lovers. If you have no stomach for frank talk about sex, you should likely discontinue reading now.

Russian historian Orland Figes wrote of Rasputin’s purported sexual deftness:

“One woman confessed that the first time she made love to him her orgasm was so violent that she fainted. Perhaps his potency as a lover also had a physical explanation. Rasputin’s assassin and alleged homosexual lover, Felix Yusopov, claimed that his prowess was explained by a large wart strategically situated on his penis, which was of exceptional size.”

Hmmm. Let that sink in for a moment. Rasputin was likely schtupping Alexandra, and Rasputin’s member is probably the most famous physical remnant of his life. Rasputin’s severed penis is on display at a Russian museum of erotica, and if you would like a NSFW (depending on where you work) peek at what everyone’s favorite Russian mystic was working with, click here. If you actually clicked that link, you probably are both disgusted and impressed at the same time. Or perhaps you just feel inferior.

That’s today’s history lesson: the man, the myth, the legend, Rasputin.

6 Responses to “History Lessons with Heather: Rasputin”

  1. miscellaneoussheepery February 10, 2010 at 9:35 PM #

    Despite our differing views on abortion, I see we are both lovers of history =) I also majored in history in college (and do, in fact, plan to teach, if I can ever find a job) and found your article fascinating. I recently read somewhere – I believe it was in Snuff, a book by Chuck Palahniuk – that another theory on why the cyanide was not effective on Rasputin was because of the medium in which it was served – the wine and cakes – which are both high in sugar. Glucose is apparently an antidote to cyanide, or, at the very least, it slows the effects, which means that ol’ Rasputin was able to fight back. I’ve always found Russian history to be very interesting, possibly because I got so little European/Russian history in school, so I appreciate you putting this up. I was not brave enough to click the NSFW link, though. =)

    • fixedair February 10, 2010 at 11:49 PM #

      Thanks! I’m going to aim to feature something history-related every week.

  2. shoutabyss February 10, 2010 at 10:53 PM #

    Dang, I did click the link, even though you warned me! Not something I want to see and what a strange thing to keep on display. All I can say is, “wow!”

    I believe here in the United States we have Einstein’s brain, which at one point was allegedly divided into 240 sections and kept in mason jars in the house of the doctor who performed Einstein’s autopsy. Now it resides at Princeton Hospital in New Jersey.

    Brain vs. Penis. I think this is definitely one case where the brain wins! 🙂

    • fixedair February 10, 2010 at 11:50 PM #

      It is a strange thing to keep on display, although I think it really is very fascinating.

  3. The Harlem Yuppie February 13, 2010 at 4:26 PM #

    I studied late Russian imperial dynasties, especially the Romanovs, and Rasputin was one CRAAAZY dude. His control over Tsarina Alexandra was especially interesting.

  4. thejamminjabber September 8, 2010 at 1:04 PM #

    I heard Michael Jackson has his nuts. True story.


Leave a Reply to miscellaneoussheepery Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: