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Except Rasputin: Holy Fools, mystics and charlatans in the entourage of Nicholas II

The symbol of the moral degradation of power under the last Russian Emperor was the elder Grigory Rasputin. The uncritical confidence of the Royal family in the scandalous visionary caused confusion and indignation among dignitaries and the public. But even before the appearance of Rasputin at the court of the king was sympathetic to dubious characters. Among them there were wizards, hypnotists, fortune-tellers, and many other charlatans who looked like the “Holy devil”.

Both the Emperor and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna were distinguished by their piety and reverence for Orthodoxy. For many years they waited for the birth of an heir, but only daughters were born. The sense of evil fate strengthened the religious views of the already impressionable couple.Therefore, various fools and blissful people began to appear at court, who could “predict the future” – that is, the birth of a boy.

Reverence for strange people from the people outwardly fit into the Church tradition. One of these activities was mother Matrona-Boots. This was her nickname for her habit of walking barefoot on the street, even in winter. She was found in the slums of St. Petersburg and brought to Tsarskoe Selo, where she confidently assured the Imperial couple that they would be able to give birth to an heir.

Former soldier Vasily Tkachenko, originally from the Kuban, was also called Barefoot – he became famous for a strange way of life in a monastic cassock and with a staff topped with a cross. To the blessed Praskovya, or Pasha of Sarov, Nicholas II and his wife went to bow themselves in the Seraphim-diveyevsky monastery of the Nizhny Novgorod province.

Before the Emperor and Empress there were also more “stupid” faces. Once they were introduced to the feeble-minded Mitka Kolyaba. He was an invalid from birth: lame, deaf, and with stumps instead of hands. Kolyaba could not speak clearly, but expressed himself in shouts and other incoherent sounds. Naturally, he did not utter any obvious prophecy during the meeting.

Suffering from epilepsy, Darya Osipova was brought to the court by an adjutant, Alexander Orlov, who was said to help women in her native village cope with illnesses. She did not make a positive impression on the Empress, because she behaved too strangely: she shouted a lot of curses and almost fell into a trance. However, it was during her stay in Tsarskoye Selo that Alexandra Feodorovna had a boy, Tsarevich Alexey.

Perhaps if the Tsarevich Alexey did not suffer from incurable hemophilia, Rasputin would not have gained so much influence on the throne…

Perhaps, if the Tsarevich Alexey did not suffer from incurable hemophilia, Rasputin would not have gained so much influence on the throne…
Proximity to the throne allowed the favorites to influence politics in some cases. Perhaps the most moderate close “mystic” of Nicholas II was a doctor of Tibetan medicine Zhamsaran Badmaev, originally from Buryatia. In the course of his career, he became Peter Alexandrovich Badmaev and rose to become a full state councillor.

By the way, Tibetan medicine, for all its controversies, inspired a certain confidence. Dr. Badmaev’s treatment helped many patients, including Tsarevich Alexey and the famous priest John of Kronstadt. So it is difficult to call Badmaev a charlatan.

According to rumors, the doctor could be a member of the Tibetan mystical society “Green dragon” (they were then interested in the Nazis who were interested in mysticism) – and through Badmaev, Rasputin and even the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna could get there. It is difficult to prove these rumors, but it was due to the proximity to the court that Badmaev tried to convince the authorities that Tibet should be annexed to Russia. The doctor did not seek strong influence, limiting himself to private medical practice. This allowed him to save both his position and life – in comparison with the same Rasputin.

But the meteorologist Nikolai Demchinsky took advantage of the Tsar’s trust too abruptly. It is now considered a science of meteorology, and at that time weather forecasts seemed something mystical, like astrology. Hence the Emperor’s curiosity. Demchinsky wrote a letter to the Tsar asking him to implement reforms in favor of society: “the Picture of the future of Russia has long been outlined in my head and, as it seems to me, the picture of its only possible prosperous existence.” This zeal was not appreciated, and Demchinsky lost influence.

Mystical teachings could come to Russia from enlightened Europe. One such reputable mediums in the late nineteenth century was a Frenchman, Nesie Philip. “Master Philip”, as he was called, could heal with prayer from a young age, and then did everything in a row: hypnosis, seances of spiritualism and, of course, predictions of the future. All this was combined into the whole doctrine of martinism. In words, martinism spoke of prayer and salvation of the soul in the spirit of Christianity, but in reality it was a refuge for mystical practices of all sorts.

The Royal family heard rumors about Philip’s popularity and even a story that he allegedly caused lightning after an argument with a Catholic priest. Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov began to look for a meeting with a popular occultist, and the latter in conversation predicted the birth of the Tsarevich. After that, he several times predicted the death of the Russian Empire and the Royal family. It is not known what his further influence on the Emperor would have been if he had not died in 1905.

But his colleague in the Martinist order Papus continued contacts of French mystics with the Russian Tsar. For the Royal couple, he conducted a seance, calling the spirit of Alexander III, and also greatly contributed to the development of martinism in Russia (the order’s lodges were opened, books were translated, and the official journal of the martinists was published in Russian).

Visiting Europeans did not seek the servile confidence of the Emperor. And many common folk elders were too uneducated and short-sighted. Rasputin combined the image of a” truly popular ” predictor, a cunning mind and strong ambitions. His appearance at court will Eclipse the fame of all other charlatans.

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