The murder and legend of Grigori Rasputin is a perfect example of what you get when you piss off the Aristocracy. Late 19th century Russia was an absolute mess. Rampant corruption and a sitting monarch who seemed to have no interest in ruling had created a perfect setting for revolution. Introduced into this powder keg of social upheaval was a man from, essentially, nowhere. Rasputin exploded into the circles of the Russian social elite on rumors of necromancy, sorcery, and divine healing powers. Here he found a captivated audience that was rich, influential, and had an appetite for decadence.
Whether by dark design or by simple dumb luck, Rasputin leveraged his mystique and popularity in the Russian salon circuit into a meeting with Tsar Nicholas II. After a display of ‘miraculous’ healing ability that seemingly saved the Tsar’s son from an injury related to his severe hemophilia, Rasputin became a well established part of the royal household. Tsarina Alexandra seemed to believe Rasputin’s presence was the only thing keeping the only male heir to the throne, Alexei, alive. A man with this much power over the Russian ruling family was bound to ruffle a few feathers of those in the government, Russian Orthodox Church, and positions of power.
Rasputin’s history pre-St.Petersburg is murky, sure, but his time running with the Romanovs is further complicated by the sheer amount of rumor and propaganda that was produced by those who despised the royalty both before and after Rasputin’s death. We know Rasputin was not exactly humble, he was known for boasting about his power over the Tsar and his wife. The challenge is separating Rasputin’s bravado from the rumor mill of the anti-royalists. The distinction between the two has become more and more difficult with time. With countless books, plays, and even operas written about the ‘Holy Devil’ Grigori Rasputin, each seems to add another layer to his already mysterious figure.