William Barret Travis

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Today, William Barret Travis is best known as the commanding officer of the Republic of Texas forces at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. What history has forgotten, however, are his reasons for fleeing his life in Sparta, Alabama to seek fortune and glory in Texas. Some have speculated that he was running from mounting debts, a loveless marriage, or perhaps the Purple Flying People Eater. None of these is, in fact, true.

The real reason Travis fled Alabama was to evade an elite Vatican death squad. To better understand why the Vatican would dispatch an elite death squad against Travis, we must travel back to 1829.

In that year, William Barret Travis joined the Alabama Lodge No. 3 of the Free and Accepted Masons. While joining the Masons was far from unusual for a man of Travis’ standing, he was far from the usual intiate. Recognized for his eloquent locution, steadfastness, and ability with the throwing star, Travis was trained by the Masons in the assassin’s arts.

After his training was complete, Travis’ skills were first put to the test on January 7, 1830, when he killed English painter Thomas Lawrence by stuffing him into a hatbox - with one hand. His next target was no less than King George IV. The British monarch narrowly escaped Travis’ first attempt on his life, but succumbed to the second, when Travis snuck into his bedchamber and sucked all the air out of the room with a powerful Dyson vacuum cleaner that his Masonic superiors had acquired from the future.

These two were but practice, however, for Travis’ true target - Pope Pius VIII. The Masons were long enemies of the Catholic faith, and had conspired to dispatch Pius VIII ever since the pontiff’s agents had succeeded in killing American Chief Justice and prominent Mason, John Jay, in May of 1829.

After assassinating Pius VIII on December 1, 1830, Travis returned to Alabama, hoping to concentrate on his recently founded newspaper. Alas, it was not to be. Unknown to him, Vatican security cameras had captured footage of him breaking into the papal residence only hours before the pope’s death. Seeking vengeance, the cardinals dispatched an elite death squad formed of sixteen Swiss Guards, seven Frenchmen, and a Mongol. These fell upon Travis’ home on February 31, 1831, burning it to the ground and killing his dog - Snoopy - in the process. But Travis got away, and fled to Texas.

Some historians speculate that it was Pius VIII’s successor, Gregory XVI, who ordered Mexican dictator Santa Ana to butcher the small band defending the Alamo, knowing that Travis was among them.

William Barret Travis’ legacy as an assassin can be seen in the common convention of referring to assassins and would-be assassins by their three names, rather than the usual two, which continues to this day.