Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rasputin's death

Grigory Efimovich Rasputin (1869-1916) was known as the "Mad Monk." Born a peasant in Siberia, he made his way to St. Petersburg in the early 1900s and styled himself a mystic. He was supposedly able to hypnotize people with his piercing blue eyes. He ingratiated himself to the Russian Imperial family by repeatedly healing the young son of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra. He remains paradoxical to this day, as was his doctrine of attaining grace through sin. He was variously believed to be a holy man, a charlatan, and a madman, and made enough political enemies that they conspired to kill him. But it wasn't easy.
  • Stabbing: He survived a stabbing by a former female friend and follower that left his entrails protruding from his abdomen.
  • Poisoning: A group of nobles served him cakes and wine laced with enough cyanide to kill 5 men, but he was unaffected.
  • Gunshot: One of the conspirators shot him with a pistol, but after appearing to have been killed, Rasputin roused, lunged at his attacker, and attempted to strangle him. The other conspirators shot him 3 more times in the back, but he still struggled to get up.
  • Bludgeoning: The conspirators then clubbed him, wrapped him in a sheet, and threw his body in the river.
  • Drowning: An autopsy 3 days later confirmed that he had drowned, but the position of his arms when he was pulled from the river suggested that he had attempted to claw his way through the ice.
Accounts of this story vary. Explanations of his survival include the vaporization of much of the cyanide when the cakes were baked, and there are discrepancies about the number and the caliber of the handguns used, etc. Rumors abounded during his life, and legend follows it. Rasputin was buried, but after the Russian Revolution, his body was disinterred and burned - at which time (due to the shrinking of tendons) it appeared to sit up!

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