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Thomas Paine Argument on Louis XIV Trial


Thomas Paine is one of the most vibrant speakers that aired their views on the trial of Louis XIV in French. This was quite interesting, bearing in mind that Paine had been born and raised elsewhere. However, his way of bringing up as well as the environment in which he grew up must have been the contributing factor to the form of life that he led. Besides being born in England, Thomas Paine found his way into a foreign land and gave a significant contribution to the liberation of the people. All through his contribution, he concentrated on having a government that cared for the people and that belonged to the people. For this reason, he worked more on the enhancement of the need to have a government that could be controlled by the people as opposed to being controlled by the top officials. In the United States, he led a revolution by way of his pamphlets that enlightened the people against the colonial rule. In France, he also used the pamphlets to spread his ideas on the need to have a revolution in the country. It is for this reason that he found himself behind the bars. His argument was therefore for the materialization of the already unstoppable revolution in the country. He held that there was a need to have the king tried in a fair manner so as to be just on all accounts. Therefore, he argued that the Louis ought to have been tried and sentenced (François n.p). However, he was opposed to the idea of having the king executed, as this would not have taught him a lesson. Thomas Paine worked along with other revolutionists, having been appointed a deputy in the conventional rationale.

Background of Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine was born in the United Kingdom in Norfolk in 1737. It is here that he grew up and went to school when the education was not compulsory. He helped the father in the making of the Stays. Being a Brit, Thomas was one of the few people that were against the colonization induced by England on other countries. For this reason, he later moved to America to help in the revolution against the English colonization. It is in America that Thomas wrote the various p[amplest and let them to the people. Such included the common sense, a pamphlet that he used to challenge the people to put pressure on the colonizers to liberate themselves from the slavery. During this time, he learnt the various techniques on the way to deal with the people in power. It is after learning of the proposed revolution in French that he later got there. Having attended school, he was able to easily interact with the rest of the revolutionists and thus offer his ideas on the prevailing issues.

Thomas Argument regarding the Trial of Louise XIV

It could be anticipated that Thomas Paine could be for the revolution of the French people. His travel to France came at a time that the royal government was under attack from other revolutionists of the poor governing system that was being applied. When Thomas Paine got to France, He supported the trial of the king and those allied to him. In this case, he argued that Louise should be tried and a verdict offered. For this reason, he stated that Louise ought to be tried in a fair manner to allow him fair hearings. Thus, he supported the trial but gave the suitable conditions that the trial could be subjected to. Also, he stated that the verdict should have been given after all the parties involved in the case gave their tribulations regarding the allegations made against the monarchial government. Also, Thomas Paine argued that Louise should have been taken to exile and not executed. He argued that executing Louise XIV would not have helped a thing (Michael n.p). This is because he could not have a chance to learn about what a democratic governance system is like. Executing him, according to Thomas Pine would only be a punishment without a proper direction and intended results. Instead, Thomas felt that Louise should have been taken to exile, in a country that was fighting to have democracy all through, such as America. In this argument, he believed that Louise would learn about the importance of having in place an all-inclusive government and the need to have the power on the people. However, this argument is seen to have been ignored as the king was later executed. However, this argument was seen to have sense in enabling the top leaders to benchmark with other countries on what the commoners were fighting for. Thomas also argued that Executing Louise XIV would not have been the best choice for the country as it would pave way for the extension of the monarchy. This is because, after the death of the king, his sons would take over from their father and render the revolution fruitless.

Assumptions surrounding Thomas Paine’s Argument

There were various assumptions that surrounded the argument that Thomas made regarding the trial of Louise XIV. First, Thomas assumed that revolution was the only way out of the problems facing the people at the time. He, therefore, assumed that the majority of the commoners were in support of the punishment of the king and for the introduction of a new system of governance. In addition, he assumed that the monarchy had the power to overrun the will of the people as all powers belonged to the top leaders and not the people. For this reason, he feared that killing the king would mark the accession of his sons to power, thus creating a perpetual monarchy form of governance. He also assumed that the country lacked a fit judicial system. For this reason, he assumed that the hearing would not be fair to the king. He, therefore, had to argue and insist that the trail had to be based on the fair platform for all the parties, including the king. Another assumption in the argument was that for there to be a successful form of revolution, the errant leaders must be given a chance to learn from others. It is for this reason that he proposed that Louise shouldn’t have been executed but taken to exile, such as in America, to allow him to understand how the democratic form of governance operates.

Relationship of Thomas Paine’s argument to his background

Having been born in England, Thomas felt the pain that people were going through under its leadership and colonization. Therefore, he must have been motivated to fight against such aspects whereby those in power have all the rights over the commoners. On the other hand, the leadership in England was also Monarchial at the time. Thomas must have felt the many disadvantages that come with the monarchical form of governance. This was a similar case in France, and thus he felt the need to assist the people to come out of the oppression. In his speech, Thomas argued that the king should not be executed but ought to be taken into exile. This argument could have been traced from the fact that after the death of a king or a queen, one of the sons takes over, marking the continuation of the monarchy. Having learnt this in England, he knew exactly what was likely to happen if the monarchy leader was executed.

The taking part in the American Revolution also paved the way for Thomas Paine to take part in the French revolution. Thomas Paine had taken part in the spread of information to the Americans on the reason why they should all unite against the British colony. He did this by writing various Pamphlets and distributing them to the people. For instance, the “common sense” magazine challenged the Americas on the reason they continued to serve under the colony in their own country. Therefore, he became the awakening call to the nation that was in civil war. All this experience prepared him for the task that was awaiting him in France. The strategy applied in America was also the same one applied in France. He used his Pamphlets to enlighten the people on their rights and the reason why they should all be united to fight against the Monarchial government.

Having gone through school, Thomas Paine had an upper hand over other people that had no such chance. While in school, Paine learnt much about what was happening across the world and thus prepared him for the role he took. Been an educated person, it was easy for him to interact with the rest of the revolutionist and offer his views. In France, he wasn’t able to communicate in French. However, he was given the role as a deputy in the conventional rationale for the confidence he portrayed in his ideas.

The spectrum of the political opinion offered

The political opinion offered by Thomas Paine defines him as a moderate Republican. This is because he is fully against the monarchy that was in place before the inducement of the evolution. Paine’s argument describes that he was quite unhappy with the monarchy that was in power in the previous regime. For this reason, he supported the Republican, which is the complete opposite of the monarchy. Paine was a Republican in that he believed in the free exchange of power. He also believed that power should be vested in the people and not left for a few at the top (Sommer 117). His views suggested that the commoners ought to control the country. For this reason, he and other revolutionists suggested the formation of the conventional rationale. This was a body supposed to represent the people’s views and pass laws for the country. This was different from the monarchy as the latter made the laws at the top. The leaders of a monarchy were not determined by the people and thus imposed laws forcefully.

The opinion offered can be said to have been from a moderate republican due to the balancing of the argument. In this case, Paine is seen to have argued for a fair trial of the king. This is seen as a high level of moderation in that he opposed the rule but still had space for fairness in the case. Also, he was not so radical and thus was not intending to execute the king. Instead, he suggested that the king should be taken into exile, and that would have been a sufficient form of punishment.


The efforts put in by Thomas Paine in the revolution of France were paramount. Having been brought up in Britain, he had a good foundation if what monarchy was all about and the problems attached to it. He, therefore, was able to relate to the complaints made against the poor form of governance in France. Again, the taking part in the American Revolution against the British colony also forms part of experience preparing him for a better course in France. Part of his argument came to pass while the rest was ignored. Louise XIV was tried and executed, against Thomas wish, in which case he preferred exile punishment.

Works cited

François Furet and Mona Ozouf, A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution (1989).

Michael Walzer, ed., Regicide and Revolution: Speeches at the Trial of Louis XVI (Columbia University Press, 1992).

Sommer, Heather J. “‘To Weep over His Faults and His Fate’: America’s Political Factions on the Trial and Execution of Louis XVI.” History Matters 13 (2016): 117-39.



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