Saturday, 11 August 2007

Soldier of Fortune

From favoured aspirant to the throne of Bulgaria to the glad acceptance of a position as a street car conductor in Chicago, or from the proud position of one of Russia's most profligate millionaires to that of marker in a Chicago billard hall, would seem to cover the possible range of one man's career yet that of Count Nicholas Savin, a Russian nobleman, comprises not only this, but includes a trip to the mines of Siberia for the third time to don a convict's garb, which he will now in all probability wear to the end of his life. Surpassing as it does about everything either fiction or history for adventure, monumental money getting in variors ways, and equally monumental money spending, the astonishing career of Count Savin, spreading as it does all over the world, is, to say the least interesting.

Count Nicholas Savin scion of one of the most ancient families of Russian nobility, was born in 1858, as the youngest son of the head of the house at that time. His upbringing was that of the ordinary Russian aristocrat of the old school, and at the age of 20 he entered the smartest regiment of cavalry guards, with the rank of cornet, the lowest grade of officers in the Russian army. Early in life Count Savin had remarkable experiences for his three elder brothers died one after the other, in a short time, making him sole heir to the vast family estates. His father died soon afterwards, and he entered into possession of his patrimony at the age of 22. At the time his property was estimated to consist of 100,000 acres of land while his invested capital was figured at $5 million ($125M in todays terms)

Feeling secure in the possession of all these riches Count Savinbegan a life of the most reckless sort. He rented a magnificant house on the Boulevard des Italiena. He was an expert in getting from women in society. men too lent him money freely for he had a wonderful knack of inspiring them with the utmost confidence in his own integritty and in his power to repay loans of any magnitude. French noblemen, wealthy manufacturers, financiers, politicians, writers and actors all fell into the trap and supplied money which they never saw again. But Count savin's victims were not limited to French circles. On several occasions he joined the circle of the favored few who associated with the Prince of Wales, now King Edward VII of England, during that royal personage's visits to Paris. The last time he met the Prince of Wales he asked him point blank for a loan of $1,000 and Edward gave him the amount in bank notes there and then.

Count Savin did not confine his efforts to these limits. he became a Russian spy and sent highly cloured military secrets to the Czar all of which emanated from his own brain. At the same time he was in the pay of the German, Austrian and Spanish governments as their official spy in Paris. At the time that he was in the pay of four Europeans governments this extraordinary man was a member of a Russian nihilist association the headquarters of which were in Paris, and he possessed the full confidence of the political conspirators. who had not the slightest idea of his official connections.

Thanks to his high social position, it was easy for Count Savin to manipulate a desrable matrimonial venture. He married the Countess de Lautree, daughter of a French nobleman, who received a dowry of $500,000. the count immediately busied himself in getting rid of his wife's money and succeeded admirably. The countess, after three years of martyrdom secured a divorce.

Paris now became uncomfortable for the count. To avoid open exposure he went to Berlin where he repeated this Parisian maneuver; thence to Vienna, Rome, Madrid and Copenhagen.

Towards the end of 1892, when he was 34 years old, Count Savin assumed the name Count Lautree de Toulouse and went to the Balkans to secure new adventures in that troubled region. At the time Prince Ferdinand was in high disfavour with his subjectsand the count conceived the brilliant scheme of becoming Ferinand's successor for the throne. He became intimate with the great Stambuloff and actually hoodwinked that wily staeman into aiding him in his plot. Here, however, fate intervened. The count went to Constantinople to secure the Sultan's assent to his attempt on the Bulgarian throne. While there he was recognised by a Russian secret service spy.

Source: South Jersey Republican- 30 Jan 1904

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