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As I discovered after using unpublished memoirs, diaries and letters to research a book on this extraordinary man, the fact that a vague promise of sex should have proved Rasputin’s downfall was unsurprising.
Legendary: The mystic Rasputin (centre) held court with the Tsar and Tsarina and, of course, countless women.
But his sexual obsession would ultimately be used against him...
to lead him to his gruesome death Their reports described Rasputin at various times as ‘very drunk’, ‘dead drunk’ and ‘overcome with drink’.
Shortly after returning to his flat, the Man of God, known for his shunning of sleep, was back on the street.
He won favour in imperial circles when rumours of his powers reached the Grand Duchess Militza, a gullible woman who had introduced many ‘Holy Men’ to her cousin, the Tsarina.
When diners at another table asked if he was really Rasputin, he dropped his trousers and waved his most famous feature at them, all the while distributing notes saying ‘Love unselfishly’.Indeed, it has been alleged that the bullet said to have killed Rasputin was fired by a British secret service agent, amid concerns he was lobbying for the Russians to make a separate peace with the Tsarina’s homeland.
In 1915, Rasputin urged the Tsar to remove the Grand Duke from command of the country’s million-strong army and this he agreed to do, even though the country was then engaged in World War I.Since it was known that he had the ears of the ‘Tsars’, as he called them, favour-seekers would file through the lobby, bearing lavish gifts of wine, carpets and even huge fish.Floral tributes were a favourite: ‘Idiots bring fresh flowers every day. Those deemed attractive enough to become one of his ‘little ladies’ would, like Sister Maria, be invited to join him in his study.For someone who described himself as ‘a Christ in miniature’ and had inveigled his way into Russia’s imperial court as a much-revered ‘Holy Man’, Grigori Rasputin spent his last day alive indulging in an astonishing amount of debauchery.This was by no means unusual according to the police bodyguards who watched over his home on the direct orders of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Tsarina Alexandra, the last rulers of the doomed Romanov dynasty.For it was in that palace that he was about to meet his bizarre and brutal end — poisoned, beaten and ultimately shot by a gang of his enemies.