Friend of the Imperial FamilyIn 1906, Rasputin, known by many as the "mad monk," arrived in St. Petersburg with a reputation as a mystic and faith healer. Two years later, he was introduced to Russian Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, who were seeking help for their sickly son, Alexis. Rasputin quickly gained their confidence by seemingly "curing" the boy of hemophilia. This action won him the passionate support of Alexandra.
Between 1906 and 1914, various politicians and journalists used Rasputin’s association with the imperial family to undermine the dynasty’s credibility and push for reform. Rasputin helped their efforts by claiming to be the Tzarina’s advisor. Accounts of his lascivious behavior emerged in the press and contempt grew among state officials. In truth, his influence at this time was limited to the health of Alexis.
As Russia entered World War I, Rasputin predicted that calamity would befall the country.
Nicholas II took command of the Russian Army in 1915, and Alexandra took responsibility for domestic policy. Always Rasputin's defender, she dismissed ministers who were said to be suspicious of the "mad monk." Government officials tried to warn her of Rasputin's undue influence, but she continued to defend him, giving the impression that Rasputin was her closest advisor.