Grigory Rasputin was born in the west of Siberia in the town of Pokrovskoe. We don’t know the exact date but the name Grigory suggests that he was born on 10 January (old style date), dedicated to St Grigory of Nicea. We don’t even know the exact year, but in 1915 Rasputin himself believed he was 52. His father Efim Akovlevich Rasputin was a farmer, and he also drove sleighs and wagons for private customers. His mother was Anna Parshukova.
The death of his little brother Dmitry threw Grigory into a depression, and his behaviour became unpredictable. Around this time, his so-called “first miracle” happened when he captured a horse thief through second sight. During his teenage year, he drank heavily and became a ladies man. His first love was Praskovia Fedorovna Dubrovina, and they married six months after their first meeting. Their first son died at the age of six months. Around this time, he made a pilgrimage to the monastery of Verkhoturie, which would change his life. He gave up alcohol, tobacco and meat. He shunned people and began to pray continuously. His reputation began to grow.
Rasputin arrived in St. Petersburg in 1905 and first met the Tsar on 31 October 1905 through Milica and Anastasia of Montenegro, who had married Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich and Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich. Nicholas recorded in his journal, “We became acquainted today with Grigory, a man of God from Tobolsk province.” Rasputin was a welcome change in their lives. They craved simplicity but could not have it. He met them several times over the next year or so.
There is no record of when Rasputin first healed the young Alexei, who famously suffered from haemophilia. He was Nicholas and Alexandra’s only son, after four daughters and the successor to his father. More and more, Alexei’s mother began to depend on Rasputin as she believed he could save Alexei. Others were less impressed with Rasputin, and his influence with the imperial family led to rumours and perhaps lessened the respect people had for the family.
Rasputin was the victim of a failed assassination attempt in 1914. He was finally murdered in 1916 in the home of Prince Felix Yusupov. The family was devastated by the loss. Alexandra was inconsolable; the only person who could save her son was now dead.1