Rasputin Received A Deeply Unsettling Threat Right Before His Death

History is full of controversial figures, many of whom came into fame or power in either violent or unconventional ways. For example, Christopher Columbus has often been credited with "discovering" the New World, yet he also enslaved groups of indigenous people. Then you have Karl Marx, who some see as a revolutionary who questioned the concept of a capitalist society, while others see him as the boogeyman who touts the ideals of dictators and communism. We also can't forget American president Andrew Jackson, who was hailed as a war hero and advocate for the "common man" while he removed thousands of Native Americans from their homes (via The Trail of Tears).

A list of examples could end up pretty long, but there is someone else who very well may make the top of history's most controversial people list. His name is Gregori Rasputin, the "mystical" holy man, who enchanted Russia's ruling family and eventually paid for it with his life.

Humble Beginnings

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was born January 10, 1869 to a peasant family in Siberia, according to the New World Encyclopedia. Tragedy struck Rasputin fairly early on in life with the deaths of his siblings, Maria and Dmitri. Though he experienced these traumatic losses, young Rasputin also started to become known for his reportedly supernatural abilities. By the time he was in his late teens, he developed a reputation, particularly for what seemed to be an ability to identify thieves or criminals.

After Rasputin turned 18, he reportedly spent around three months at the Verkhoturye Monastery. While he was there he decided to pursue a lifestyle of a religious mystic. After he finished his time at the monastery, he was mentored by a holy man named Makariy, who is said to have heavily influenced Rasputin in regard to his spirituality.

In 1889, Rasputin took a wife and subsequently had multiple children, two of whom he named after his siblings. However, after a decade of marriage, he embarked on a pilgrimage that would take him as far away as Greece and Israel.

A mystic and healer

Between 1901 and 1905, Rasputin continued his travels, and while doing so experienced many things that helped shape his persona as a holy man and healer. During the first part of his journey back and forth across Europe, Rasputin happened upon a banned sect of Christianity, who were referred to as the Khlysty (per History Collection.) This mysterious group and their alleged practices would later on be used by Rasputin in the formation of his own cult-like following, and ultimately contribute to his downfall.

Though Rasputin never took holy orders as a monk, he still somehow managed to become revered as a religious figure. After he spent time with the Khlysty, he continued to travel to places that had been designated as holy sites by the Orthodox Christian Church. He was allegedly quite charming, and managed to gain favor with the religious leaders in various places. While he did so, he was convincing the common folk that he could heal their illnesses, predict the future, and soothe their spiritual distress.

Rasputin and the Romanovs

Rasputin's popularity coincided with a rise in Russian society's rediscovered interest in the occult and mystic arts. Despite the fact that he allegedly had awful table manners and smelled to high heaven, he still managed to acquire friends among the Russian aristocracy (per History Collection). It was through these connections that he built with members of the Russian royal family that he gained access to Czar Nicholas II and his family.

Though the Romanovs were the ruling family of the Russian Empire, having that kind of power did not mean their lives were perfect. One of the major struggles they faced involved the male heir to the throne, Alexei, as he suffered from hemophilia. Often referred to as "royal disease," this genetic illness is a blood clotting disorder that was common among the royal families in Europe during this time, according to Chicago Health.

As this was often a fatal condition, the Czarina Alexandra did everything in her power to try and protect her son, as the smallest cut or bruise could potentially be catastrophic, even life-threatening. According to History Collection, doctors had failed to help her son, so out of desperation, the czarina turned to Rasputin and his reputed healing powers. When Rasputin prayed over Alexei during one of the worst bleeding episodes, the boy allegedly stopped bleeding the following morning. This act solidified Rasputin's status in the eyes of Czarina Alexandra.

Controversy engulfs the Russian royal family

Despite the fact that in her eyes, the Czarina's decision to bring in Rasputin saved her son's life, her choice of healer was highly controversial. In particular it was the relationship between Rasputin and Czarina Alexandra that became of concern to the public. The mystic began to visit the palace more often, and while he was there he reportedly spent hours on end with Alexandra in particular (per History Collection).

As the bond between the two appeared to deepen, those close to the palace, as well as the Russian people, began to become suspicious. Rasputin's power and influence continued to grow, arguably as a result of his ability to manipulate the royal family. He didn't use "dark magic" or his alleged supernatural powers to do so; he just simply told them what they wanted to hear.

While Rasputin was charming his way into the lives of the Romanovs, and particularly the empress, there was growing unrest among the Russian population. The people were already displeased with their imperialist government, and rumors began to circulate about Rasputin's unsavory reputation. In particular he was known for his sexual exploits, which resulted in speculation that he was having a sexual relationship with the czarina, while trying to control her husband, the czar. This gossip only fanned the flames of revolution in the country.

The Mad Monk Is Murdered

Despite the awful rumors and Rasputin's outlandish behaviors, the czarina in particular continued to defend her relationship with him. As his actions and conduct were calling into further question the stability of the imperialist government, there were some who decided that the "Mad Monk" had to be dealt with. According to History Collection, the czar's own nephew and a group of aristocrats came up with a plan to assassinate Rasputin, in an attempt to save the monarchy. Unfortunately, killing Rasputin was going to prove harder than it looked.

By the time 1916 rolled around, the controversial holy man was getting death threats on a regular basis, but one he received on December 29 was different for some reason. Rasputin was "deeply disturbed" by this particular death threat, and even his own daughter recalled noticing a significant change in his demeanor following the call, per Weird Worm. Who made that call is still a mystery, but later that day Rasputin met with the car's nephew, Felix Yusupov, and was murdered.

According to All That's Interesting, Yusupov had Rasputin come to his estate where he tried to poison him with wine and pastries. Allegedly when that didn't kill him, Yusupov then shot him in the chest. That reportedly didn't do the job, so Yusupov and one others who were with him were eventually forced to shoot him again, then dumped his body into the Neva River, where it was discovered days later.