Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Yusupov Palace and the Murder of Rasputin

 Yusupov Palace is now primarily associated with the murder of Rasputin.  It was here, on the night of December 29, 1916 that a plot to kill him was put into motion.

In 1906, Rasputin, also called the "mad monk," came to St. Petersburg.  He had a reputation as both a mystic and a faith healer. Two years later, in 1908, he was introduced to Russian Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, who were seeking help for their only son and heir, Alexis. Rasputin quickly gained their confidence by seemingly "curing" the boy of hemophilia. This action won him the passionate support of Alexandra.  It must be noted that it was Alexandra who introduced the gene that leads to hemophilia into the Imperial Russian family.  As a mother, her guilt in relation to this fact must have made her frantically search for any possible way to help her son.


Between 1906 and 1914, Rasputin claimed to be the Tzarina’s adviser, although in truth, his influence during that time period was limited to the health of Alexis.
It was not until Russia entered World War I and Tsar Nicholas II took command of the Russian Army leaving Tsarina Alexandra in charge of domestic policy that Rasputin began to have realy sway over some of the policies championed by Rasputin.  When ministers were said to be suspicious of the "mad monk" Alexandra summarily dismissed them . Other government officials tried to warn her of Rasputin's undue influence, but she continued to defend him, giving the impression that Rasputin was her closest advisor.

Yusopov Palace on the Neva River

Prince Felix Yusupov

 Grand Duke Dmitri

On December 29, 1916, a group of conspirators, including the czar's first cousin, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich (one of the few members of the Imperial Family to escape with his life at the time of the revolution), and Prince Felix Yusupov (who also escaped), invited Rasputin to Yusoupov's palace, and fed him wine and cakes laced with huge quantities of cyanide. However, an hour and a half later Rasputin was still happily eating and drinking and the poison seemed to have had no effect.

The conspirators then attempted to beat him to death.  When he still refused to die, as a last effort, they shot Rasputin several times. His  "corpse" was then wrapped in a carpet and thrown into the Neva River.
When the body was discovered three days later an autopsy revealed that there was water in Rasputin's lungs at the time of his death.  The official cause of death:  drowning.

An interesting aside:  Shortly before his death, Rasputin wrote to Nicholas that if he were killed by government officials, the entire imperial family would be killed by the Russian people. His prophecy came true 15 months later, when the czar, his wife and all of their children were killed by during the Russian Revolution.

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