Ra Ra Ra Ra Rasputin

23/03/2011 at 10:03 am (History, Royalty, Russia, The Ruthless Court, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Seriously though, why’d Boney M sing about a dead Russian guy anyway? Well, just look at him! Which 1970s disco group wouldn’t find so terrifying a sight to be the perfect muse? Mind you, the mad staring eyes are not the only reason why this vision has captured the imaginations of people everywhere since his early 20th century hey-day. He was known as the ‘Mad Monk’ for a reason. This extraordinary being claimed to be a holy man with mystical powers yet spent his days revelling in his apartment and the restaurants of Moscow, not to mention enjoying pleasures of the flesh.  He was in fact heavily suspected of being part of a religious sect that combined religious and sexual ecstasy. And it came as no surprise to his peers and many enemies that he was thrown out of at least one of his favourite Muscovite night spots.

But perhaps  the most remarkable thing was the way Rasputin gained entry into the inner circle of the early 20th century Romanovs, the last Imperial family of Russia, before and during WWI.  His greatest “sponsor”,  along with Tsarina Alexandra and Tsar Nicholas II,  was the Tsarina’s best friend Anna Vyrubova. She and they believed him to have special healing powers, which mysteriously eased the effects of the haemophilia of the royal couple’s son Tsarevich Alexei. Known as the royal disease because so many of Queen Victoria’s descendants all over Europe suffered from it, haemophilia is a disease that leads to the slightest injury causing excessive internal or external bleeding for prolonged periods of time. Whenever Alexei was suffering from one of these episodes and Rasputin was there to sit with him and pray over him, the boy somehow found some relief.

So grateful to Rasputin were the family, and the Tsarina in particular, she fast became one of the mystical man’s most devout disciples. When the Russians went all anti-German on her in the darkest depths of WWI, (for, like some other royals we know, she was originally German) one of the vicious rumours circulating was that she and Rasputin were ‘more than friends’. Or was it just a rumour?? We play with that in The Ruthless Court, by pitting Rasputin against a dead man in the battle for the Tsarina’s affections. Well, I say dead, but it’s actually Prince Albert Victor–Victoria’s grandson and second in line to the British throne—having assumed the alter ego of ‘John Richmond’. And for a “dead” man, the Prince more than holds his own against Rasputin in what develops into a bitter feud, as this exclusive excerpt from The Ruthless Court shows:

One morning as the Prince arrives, Rasputin, escorted by a new footman, is leaving by the same entrance. They stare angrily at each other, clearly recalling their first encounter in the Prince’s mansion years earlier. But neither man speaks. However, they both refuse to give way to the other. The Prince’s jealousy and resentment of Rasputin boil over. He stamps on his foot, and turning sideways rams his left elbow into his chest. Rasputin cries out and grabs him by the throat. Jim, the Tsarina’s huge attendant, is passing and pushes them apart. The Prince continues into the palace with Rasputin’s loud threats to have him “exiled” following him.

The next day Anna tells him that Rasputin had complained to the Tsarina about “the unprovoked, brutal violence” “John Richmond” inflicted on him. Anna tells the Prince that the Tsarina was sceptical about the story and tried to calm Rasputin. She smilingly evaded his demands for the Tsar to “banish” his attacker, from Tsarskoe at the least.

“Please tell the Tsarina that I am truly sorry about this unpleasant misunderstanding between Mr Rasputin and me. We got into a tangle as we both moved in the same direction to allow the other to pass through the entrance. In the confusion I accidentally trod on his foot and stumbled. As I flung up my arms to regain my balance one of them struck him in the chest. Entirely unintentional,” the Prince says in a very sincere tone of voice to Anna as he holds her hand.

But will Rasputin get the upper hand in the end? We all know that, in real life, Rasputin met a grizzly end, but once you enter The Ruthless Court, real life becomes….surreal….


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