Sunday, February 4, 2018

Rasputin’s Murder by Katherine Pym

For something entirely different, a YA fantasy for all ages. 
Well imagined. 

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Imperial Family & others. Little Alexi is sitting on the ground, center.

WWI is a popular topic these days with re: to novels, movies and miniseries. Even as a child, I heard it referred to as The Great War but never realized the cruel impact of it, the men being gassed, and the horrors of battles fought almost entirely in trenches. This war involved almost every nation and killed (military & civilian) more than 18 million. 

No small potato. 

Grigori Rasputin, the Mad Monk
Russia took part in this war with Czar Nicholas on the front, trying to direct his generals and their portion of the battles. This left Grigory Efimovich Rasputin behind to give spiritual advice to the Czarina, much of her family and the local nobles. Vicious propaganda emerged Rasputin had bedded the Czarina and the two of them supposedly ruled Russia in the Czar’s absence.

Enter Felix Yusupov (also spelled Youssupov), a prince and more wealthy than the Imperial family. Felix was the second son who, after the death of his brother in a duel, inherited a vast fortune. They owned lands from Asia to Finland, reaped the benefits of minerals and other resources. He was raised knowing this, and was quite the wild fellow in his youth. 

Felix Yusupov
He enjoyed wearing his mother’s clothes and jewelry, went to nightclubs dressed as a woman. After an episode where his mother’s very expensive pearl necklace broke, pearls shooting all over the darkened nightclub floor, Felix’s father put a stop to all this nonsense. He set his son under close military guard and was taught to act like a man. 

Felix (in sailor suit) and his family
Eventually, due Felix’s father’s many absences from their numerous palaces and homes, this hard-line began to fade. Felix went to university at Oxford and resumed his frivolous life. When he returned to Russia, he married the Czar’s only niece. Even as Felix’s reputation was in tatters and the royal family considered him a flagrant ne’er-do-well but since he was richer than Croesus, he was okay.

Felix was introduced to Grigory Efimovich Rasputin, the popular ‘mad monk’ and spiritualist. Felix’s social circles, especially the women, were enamored with Rasputin. He had numerous affairs with women of all stations. His smoky grey eyes could mesmerize one.  His calm voice brought one peace.  

The Czarina considered him a gift from God who could heal the heir to the throne of his hemophilia. Felix’s aunt, the Grand Duchess Olga, professed her belief in Rasputin, that she observed him healing her dear nephew.

Russia’s nobles learned to hate Rasputin. The imperial couple shunted their counsel aside as Rasputin became more powerful. The Grand Duchess hounded Felix to love Rasputin. They met and—even as Felix proudly accounted for his part in the monk’s murder—something was missing in his account. Historians debate there may have been more to Felix and Rasputin’s relationship than spiritual meetings.  

Under the guise of restoring the reputation and dignity of the imperial family, nobles planned Rasputin’s assassination. They hoped the Czar would return to St Petersburg to rule Russia as he was meant to do during a crucial time as this and let his generals run the war.

December 29/30, 1916: (This is based on several accounts that don’t necessarily match, but there you have it.) Led by Prince Yusupov who instigated the whole affair, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavolovich, the Czar’s first cousin, Vladimir Purishkevitch, a Duma deputy, and two others lured Rasputin to Felix’s opulent home with the promise he would meet Felix’s wife.

Instead, he was taken down a winding staircase to a large cellar where he was fed wine and cake laced with cyanide. Either Rasputin was a strong man or the poison was faulty for the man did not die. He passed out though. Rasputin lay on the floor, now awake, and told Yusupov he would tell something damaging about him to the Czarina. This did not sit well with Felix.

The Courtyard where Rasputin finally breathed his last.
Since the Yusupov and the other men were committed, they shot him twice. One bullet hit him in his midsection, the second in his back.
Rasputin lived. He escaped to the mansion’s courtyard where he was cruelly beaten and shot again in the head. Finally dead, the men dumped Rasputin in a hole in the ice of a canal, knowing his body would be swept downstream.

The Czarina was furious. Felix and Dimitri were exiled. Dimitri found his way to America. Felix and his wife went to the Crimea then onward to Paris. They both survived the Revolution.

As a footnote: One article I read stated that without Rasputin and how much he was hated, how he had controlled the Czarina and her husband, there would have been no room for Vladimir Lenin.

But then again, who knows.

Many thanks to:

Wikicommons &

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