The Making Of A Mad Monk: How Rasputin Went From A Peasant To Advisor Of The Romanovs

By | January 15, 2020

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Grigorj Rasputin, Russia's Mad Monk and mystic. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Known as "the Mad Monk," Grigori Rasputin was a central figure in the downfall of the royal Romanov family and the start of the Russian Revolution. He may have been a miraculous faith healer and spiritualist, or he may have been a dangerously charismatic charlatan. No matter who you choose to believe, everyone agrees that the controversial holy man led an interesting life that took him from a poverty-stricken Siberian village to the palaces of St. Petersburg, and eventually, into the history books. Let's look at the making of the Mad Monk to see how Rasputin went from peasant to political adviser to the Romanov family, to the victim of a savage assassination. 

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Rasputin means "debauched one" in Russian. (

Rasputin Wasn't His Real Name

It's hard to pin down, as Rasputin was known to give conflicting information about his early life, but historians think Rasputin was born in the Siberian village of Tyumen on January 21, 1869, whereupon he was given the name Grigori Yefimovich Novykh. As a schoolboy, however, he developed a reputation for destruction, earning him the nickname "Rasputin," meaning "debauched one." Far from the chastising effect this was presumably intended to have, Rasputin was delighted by the moniker, adopting it as his last name.