All The Times Rasputin Should Have Died

Rasputin is a prime example of a man turned into a myth. Grigory Efimovich Rasputin rose well beyond his beginnings as a Russian peasant. Many considered the man to be mystic from the start, but, according to Britannica, it wasn't until after Rasputin seemed to improve the Tsar's son's hemophiliac condition that the country would embrace his reputation. He became a favorite in Tsar Nicholas II's court, until his personality turned certain important people against him.

His mystic abilities consisted mostly of convincing the Tsar's family that their destined lay in his hands. That made him influential, even as his behavior proved scandalous. It's unclear whether it was his personality, allegedly (and this is argued) filled with a sexually deviant nature, or if it was his influence on the autocracy that made people want to kill him, but there were people who wanted the mystic dead. Enough attempts were made on Rasputin's life that the common myth lists an entire string of assassination attempts. If, of course, Rasputin ever died at all.

A near-fatal stabbing

You'll find that several of the attempts on Rasputin's life and his near-miraculous survival are hotly debated points of contention, but not this one. The assassination attempts began in 1914. Rasputin had a reputation for liking women, and he was known to visit working girls from time to time, but the prostitute who tried to kill him wasn't one he'd searched out.

Rasputin had returned to his home town for the summer of 1914. On June 27, according to History, the royal advisor was walking to the post office when he passed a homely woman who looked like any other beggar you'd expect on the streets of early 20th century Russia. That is, until she stabbed him in the abdomen, revealing that she was actually an assassin. All That's Interesting says the woman shouted, "I've killed the antichrist!" after the dagger inflicted its wound. As a testament to Rasputin's toughness, witnesses claimed that his entrails fell from the gaping hole, but not even that would stop him. No, he'd survive another two-and-a-half years.

It would later be discovered that this beggar woman was actually a prostitute in disguise. The assassin had been sent by a monk who'd previously been banished from the country and, apparently, one who didn't like Rasputin very much.

A poisoning gone wrong

It wasn't long after the stabbing that those in higher up political positions began growing tired of Rasputin. In late December 1916, Tsar Nicholas was away, visiting the front lines of the war. Rasputin took advantage of the Tsar's absence to advise the Tsar's wife, Empress Alexandra. A couple of Nicholas's relatives conspired to put an end to the holy man's influence once and for all. With the help of a member of the Duma, Russia's parliamentary branch, they invited Rasputin to a party with no intention of allowing him to leave in one piece.

According to Britannica, the Tsar's in-laws fed Rasputin a whole spread of cakes and wine that were laced with poison. From what ATI reports, the "mad monk" consumed enough cyanide to drop five men, but instead of dying like a good assassination target should have, his appetite did nothing but annoy his assassins. He seemed, for all intents and purposes, unfazed by the toxin coursing through his system, but there might be a reason for that.

Time magazine points out that Rasputin's autopsy throws a twist into this story. Apparently, there were no poisons found in the mystic's system after his death, which occurred the same night as the alleged poisoning. So, either that guy had a superhuman metabolism, or the poisoning never really happened.

Shot and dumped in a frozen lake

If stabbing and poisoning can't kill the Russian mystic-turned-political-advisor, then certainly a trusty bullet would do the job! Well, maybe. It depends on what source you're consulting.

After the poison failed to take down Rasputin, the conspirators were in a panic. Some sources say he was then beaten, and to finish him off, his conspirators then shot him. Sources such as Britannica, ATI, and History all say Rasputin had taken the first shot (or shots) to the body, and his assassins believed he was dead, but Rasputin liked to surprise. Sometime later, he sprang to life and was found running across the court yard. That's when he was shot in the head. Game over. Or was it?

Rasputin's lifeless body was then bound and thrown in a freezing lake. It would take three days for his corpse to be pulled from under the ice. According to ATI, several different autopsies were performed, and most agreed that Rasputin's cause of death wasn't bullets, but rather hypothermia. That sounds like a bit of a stretch, we agree, and Time says the autopsy reports show the man died from a single shot to the brain, but with Rasputin being so entwined with popular myth and propaganda from the winning side of WWI, we may never be fully capable of separating the man from the legend.