Details About Rasputin's Hygiene That Really Shouldn't Be Ignored

Over 100 years after his death, Grigori Rasputin remains a mysterious figure in history (via Biography). According to Owlcation, not much is known about his early life. However, it's believed that Rasputin was born in Siberia in 1869 to an impoverished family. Smithsonian Magazine reports that he married, had children, and overall had an average life until 1892. That year, Rasputin was sent to a monastery, either by force or on his own volition (per ThoughtCo.). Either way, this experience changed him forever. Britannica states that Rasputin subsequently became involved in a religious movement that believed that one could become closer to God by pursuing a hedonistic lifestyle.

Despite never becoming a monk, his magnetic personality and charm led him to meet the Romanovs, Russia's Imperial family. By this point, Rasputin claimed to be a divine mystic with healing powers (via ThoughtCo.). As All That's Interesting explains, this intrigued Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, as their son, Alexei, had been born with hemophilia. Unable to find a cure, the family had turned to spiritualism instead.

Although it's unknown what treatment Rasputin provided for Alexei, he did somehow alleviate the boy's symptoms. Per Britannica, this ability gave him much influence and power within the Russian state. Rasputin, however, did not look like a typical holy man or leader. He was a bearded and dark, looming figure who was, in a word, filthy (via NPR).

Rasputin boasted about his questionable hygiene

According to All That's Interesting, Rasputin never cared much about his personal hygiene. He wore soiled clothing and overall, he disturbed Russia's nobility with his bizarre behavior (per Ranker). Owlcation reports that he rarely bathed himself and once bragged that he had not changed his underwear in six months. Some reported that Rasputin smelled like a goat and had awful breath with "teeth like blackened stumps" (via the Daily Mail). HistoryHit writes that his beard was often filled with rotting pieces of food. Moreover, his bad habits extended to his dining room etiquette.

Per an NPR review of Douglas Smith's 2017 book "Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs," Rasputin licked the spoons he used to serve food for other people. In addition, he failed to use cutlery and instead used his fingers to eat fish and bread. Rasputin would then wipe his messy hands on the nearest tablecloth. As The Collector explains, it's possible that his impoverished background was partly to blame for his revolting manners and hygiene. However, it's argued that his customs were beyond extreme compared to other peasants. While many were flat out sickened by witnessing Rasputin's manners, others thought it added to his enduring charisma (via Ranker). Still others believed that it was simply part of his act.

Women loved Rasputin

Despite Rasputin's awful hygiene and overall lack of cleanliness, Ranker reports that women pined for his affection. The self-proclaimed "Christ in Miniature" spent much of his time seducing aristocratic women of the Russian nobility. Rumors persist to this day that he had an affair with Tsarina Alexandra. However, historians note that this was gossip that was spread to tarnish the reputation of both Rasputin and the Imperial family (via Town & Country). Nevertheless, it's known that Rasputin, a married man, had affairs with countless women.

As Douglas Smith, author of "Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs," put it, "He couldn't keep his hands off any attractive woman in his company ... regardless whether they liked it or not." Furthermore, History 101 writes that Rasputin had a number of loyal female followers. It's believed that he bartered with them and gave them spiritual support if they provided sexual favors.

Women were so entranced by his mystique, reports NPR, that they would kiss his fingers and battle over the leftover crumbs on his plate. Ultimately, many believe that Rasputin was obsessed with sex (per the Daily Mail). He used his authority to tempt women and called his female followers "little ladies." On December 30, 1916, Rasputin's life of debauchery came to end when he was assassinated by members of Russia's nobility because of his growing influence on the country (via All That's Interesting).