TL;DR version: Melisandre of Asshai, red priestess and advisor to Stannis Baratheon, is the Westerosi version of Grigori Rasputin, holy man and advisor to Alexandra Feodorovna, last Czarina of Russia.
“He had seen the maester slip something into the wine cup. Poison. What else could it be? He drank a cup of death to free Stannis from Melisandre, but somehow her god shielded her.”
–Davos I, A Clash Of Kings
Compare the above quote from Davos in A Clash of Kings to the below quote about Rasputin on howstuffworks.com:
“Yusopov laced pastries and wine with enough cyanide to poison several men. However, after Rasputin arrived and began eating and drinking, the poison had no effect…”
This is pure speculation, but there are many similarities between Rasputin and Melisandre: religion, prophecy, royalty, and also both were viewed with dislike and fear by the common people.
Similarities between Rasputin and Melisandre:
- Rasputin came from the East (Siberia) and was able to ingratiate himself with the Russian Imperial family due to his supposed mystical healing powers.
- Melisandre came from the East (Asshai) and was able to ingratiate herself with Stannis Baratheon and his wife due to her mystical powers of prophecy.
- Rasputin was a renowned religious teacher: “He knew the Scriptures, and his interpretations were so keen and so original that highly-educated people, even learned church-men, liked to listen to them.” – Gerard Shelley, The Blue Steppes, 1925
- Melisandre is a priestess of R’hllor, the Lord of Light, and has easily converted the Westerosi who follow Stannis to her religion, even getting them to burn statues of their old gods to prove their faith.
- Rasputin was closely linked to Czarina Alexandra Romanov and it was rumoured they were lovers, though this is thought to be slander.
- Melisandre is rumoured to be Stannis’s lover, though this is definitely true.
- Rasputin was eventually killed by a gunshot, though popular legend has it that he survived a poisoning attempt on the same night, eating cakes laced with cyanide with no ill effects.
- Maester Cressan tried to poison Melisandre’s wine, but it had no effect on her, instead killing him.
- Rasputin was said to have prophesied that the Romanovs would die: “When the bell tolls three times, it will announce that I have been killed. If I am killed by common men, you and your children will rule Russia for centuries to come; if I am killed by one of your stock, you and your family will be killed by the Russian people! Pray Tsar of Russia. Pray.”
- Melisandre also has the gift of prophecy: many of the things she sees in her flames come true, though not always as she expects.
- Rasputin was known to attract a lot of female attention.
- Melisandre is beautiful, and Maester Cressan notes: “Men’s eyes that once found her did not quickly look away, not even a maester’s eyes.” (Cressan I, A Clash Of Kings)
- Last but not least, Rasputin was named after St. Grigori of Nyssa.
- Melisandre is our source for the legend of Azor Ahai, who tempered his sword Lightbringer by plunging it into his wife, Nissa Nissa.