Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Gregori Rasputin: Ten New Things I Learned About History's Most Famous Russian

1.  There is actually a Grigori Rasputin Museum run by what seem to be serious collectors and archivists.  It stands in the Siberian hometown of the monk, Pokrovskoe, and is operated by Vladimir and Maria Smirnov. By the way, the Smirnovs are the source of the claim that Rasputin is history's most famous Russian. I am sure this has nothing to do with promoting the museum.

2.  The Smirnovs discovered Grigori's birth date in parish records to be 9 January 1869.

3. Rasputin had three children – daughters Matryona and Varya, and son Dmitry. As of 2012 he had one authenticated great-granddaughter still alive in Paris by the name of Laurance Io-Solovieff.  Naturally, there have been hundreds of claimants to be illegitimate descendants of him.

Rasputin Museum at Pokrovskoe

4. Rasputin was something of an early vegan, he abstained from eating meat or milk.

5. Although illiterate he knew the Holy Scripture by heart and recited it for both church officials and the Tsar's family.

6. The Smirnovs dispute the claim that Rasputin was poisoned with cyanide at one stage in his murder. They cite a corner's report that did not find any poison in his blood.

7.  His hometown folks loved him. He helped his neighbors, built a church there, and gave gingerbread to the kids.

Personal Artifacts at the Museum

8.  Like American gangster John Dillinger, the prodigiousness and preservation of Rasputin's penis is the source endless rumor and speculation.  

9. Two months before their murder, the former tsar and his family passed through Pokrovskoe and stood outside Grigori's house.

10.  Apparently, Rasputin founded a temperance society.

Sources:  The Moscow Times, Russia Beyond the Headlines


  1. "Rasputin was something of an early vegan, he abstained from eating meat or milk"

    I suspect that was an extension of the Orthodox fasting regimen, extended out beyond that which was required. The Orthodox have more calendar days requiring fasting and abstention from foods than the Catholic Church, which also features them, do and the Orthodox abstention from foods is more extensive than the Catholic Church's, which more people are familiar with in the west. At least according to what I've heard, the Russian Orthodox Church is notable for having a lot of periods requiring this discipline, or at least it was so notable at one time.

    I guess its worth noting that, contrary to common belief, he was not a Russian Orthodox monk nor any sort of official religious.

  2. Yes, there is an unofficial tradition of self-acknowledged "holy men" in the Orthodox religious culture of Russia. Rasputin was one of these and quite successful at it. He played on the simple holy peasant theme.

  3. I used to go as Rasputin for Halloween. It never amounted to anything - people would just say "hello Bryan." Sigh.

  4. Replies
    1. And perhaps the only figure of the Russian revolutionary period to have a party song dedicated to him, that being the disco piece "Rasputin" by Boney M.

  5. Rasputin's Daughter by Robert Alexander is a pretty good read, as is The Kitchen Boy, two of his many Romanov-themed novels. Then of course there are his Music and Movie stores, located on Telegraph in Berkeley and the Haight in SF, because, really, as a man of the people, where else would they be.....

  6. To borrow some lines from the "Manchurian Candidate" (not verbatim: "Rasputin was the kindest, bravest, most loving human being I have ever known". Come on number 8 above seems pretty much of a stretch.

    1. You might want to do a Google search for "R + p" and see what you discover, Parnelli.