The Poison Feast That Failed To Assassinate Rasputin

Anyone who's familiar with the myth of Anastasia, the former Russian princess probably also knows the story of infamous Russian mystic, Grigori Rasputin. As the story goes, the mysterious monk become a central figure in the Russian court after the queen become convinced that he had the power to heal her son's hemophilia.

Rasputin's proximity to the royal couple and his growing influence over the Russian court earned him quite a few enemies who were prepared to go to extreme lengths to rid Russia of the monk for good. As such, multiple attempts on Rasputin's life were made, the most famous of which involved a decadent feast designed to be Rasputin's final meal. 

The would-be last supper happened in December of 1916 when Rasputin was invited out to dine at the home of a Russian prince. Once there, Rasputin entered what looked like a lively get together and was presented with a platter full of rich honey cakes, black bread, various hors d'oeuvres, and wine, all laced with cyanide. 

In a turn of events as mysterious as the monk himself, the poisonous baked goods failed to do Rasputin in, much to the surprise of the party hosts. The mad monk was even offered glass after glass of laced madeira wine, which he slurped back without any discomfort. 

Why poisonous honey cakes failed to kill Rasputin

While Rasputin's adversaries may have been bewildered by the monk's seemingly supernatural tolerance to poison, modern science has a few explanations as to why the murder plot may have failed.

Rasputin was known for his indulgence in life's pleasures, including enjoying a good drink or two. The monk's love of wine is well documented, and he was even known to hit the 20th-century dance floor after having a few glasses of vino. With this in mind, it's not hard to imagine that Rasputin may have suffered some of the adverse effects of alcoholism, including a condition known as alcoholic gastritis. The condition occurs when alcohol erodes the stomach lining, causing a reduction in gastric acid. If this were the case, the cyanide in Rasputin's food wouldn't have been converted into the toxic compounds intended to kill him.

Another, more likely, explanation for the failed poisoning is that the legendary story about the almost-immortal monk simply isn't true. While this version of history isn't as impressive as a feast full of poisoned goods, it's not hard to imagine that the men responsible for Rasputin's violent end may have wanted to embellish how they brought about the hated monk's demise.

No matter the truth about Rasputin's death, the story of his final poisoned feast remains one of the culinary world's most famous myths.