Grigori Rasputin, Russian mystic and self-proclaimed holy man who befriended the family of Tsar Nicholas II, the last monarch of Russia, and gained considerable influence in late imperial Russia, in c. 1910s. Credit: @color_by_klimbim
Rasputin was originally sent for when the Empress, desperate to have her son Alexei healed from his illness, allowed the starets (mystical man of God) to treat her son.
Overjoyed by Rasputin’s apparent healing of the tsarverich, the weak little boy on whom the dynasty relied upon, Alexandra showered him with gifts. He began wearing a silk blouse, had a personal secretary, and was given a car. He also began making policy suggestions to Alexandra, who was filling in for Nicholas while he was away at the front, like some kind of ancient tsar-warrior leading his troops. In real life he could do little – he had only ever obtained the rank of colonel in the army.
So was Rasputin a true, yet flawed holy man or a mere charlatan? This would depend on who you ask. Most historians do not, of course, view him positively. Few would doubt that the tsarervich did seem to get better after Rasputin saw him. (Rasputin had said that the boy should not be disturbed by doctors. Coincidentally or not, we now know that sufferers of hemophilia, young Alexei’s condition, are sometimes best left alone).
According to Prince Felix Yusopov, a close relation to the tsar and possible the richest man in tsar Russia, Rasputin had once told him, boasting of his influence on the empress: “I’ll have you made a minister if you like” or words to that effect. However, Yusupov, who together with other nobles went on to murder Rasputin, was known for embellishing the truth, to put it mildly.