Grigory Rasputin, a Siberian peasant turned mystic and court sage, was as fascinating as he was unfathomable. He played the role of the simple man, eating with his fingers and boasting, “I don’t even know the ABC.” But, as the only person able to relieve the symptoms of hemophilia in the Tsar’s heir Alexei, he gained almost hallowed status within the Imperial court.
During the last decade of his life, Rasputin and his band of “little ladies” came to symbolize all that was decadent, corrupt, and remote about the Imperial Family, especially when it was rumored that he was not only shaping Russian policy during the First World War, but also enjoying an intimate relationship with the Empress…
Rasputin’s role in the downfall of the tsarist regime is beyond dispute. But who was he really? Prophet or rascal? A “breath of rank air…who blew away the cobwebs of the Imperial Palace,” as Beryl Bainbridge put it, or a dangerous deviant?
Writing for historical aficionados and curious readers alike, Frances Welch turns her inimitable wry gaze on one of the great mysteries of Russian history.