A century ago tonight, Grigori Rasputin became the victim of an elaborate and murderous plot.

That evening, the controversial Siberian monk was lured to the palatial home of Prince Felix Yusupov for a private party. There he happily ate cakes laced with enough cyanide to kill ten men, and guzzled the wine – also poisoned – brought to him by his royal host. When it became clear that Rasputin was not even going to develop a stomachache from the poisoned treats, Yusupov and his co-conspirators became increasingly frightened, as one method after another failed to kill the monk.

At last the noblemen succeeded in murdering Rasputin. Had it not been for their desperation, the monk would no doubt have survived the poison, the gunfire, and the beating. He would probably have gone on influencing the Romanov tsar and tsarina and living a heady life in the Russian capital. Yet had he died later, of natural causes, his triumphs and misdeeds would eventually have been lost in the historical mists.


But Yusupov and his co-conspirators unintentionally guaranteed the Mad Monk immortality, and not only by the cruel and spectacular way in which they committed the deed. Two weeks before he was killed, Rasputin had written a letter to the tsar and tsarina that included this passage:

If you hear the sound of the bell which will tell you that Grigory has been killed, you must know this: if it was your relations who have wrought my death, then none of your children will remain alive for more than two years.

Prince Felix Yusupov, nephew of Tsar Nicolas, was ignorant of this letter. He had no way of knowing that it was through him that the monk’s last and greatest prophecy would be fulfilled: the tsar, tsarina, and all five of their children were murdered in Siberia 18 months later.

Click here for a detailed account of Rasputin’s death and the dreadful aftermath. 


Note: Mads Dahl Madsen colorized the pictures of Rasputin in this post. He did a wonderful job of capturing the monk’s famously icy eyes, didn’t he?