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Thomas Paine’s Argument On Louis XIV Trial


Thomas Paine is one of the most vibrant speakers who aired their views on the trial of Louis XIV in France. This was quite interesting, bearing in mind that Paine had been born and raised elsewhere. However, his way of upbringing, 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 made a significant contribution to the liberation of the people. 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 colonial rule. In France, he also used 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 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 Norfolk, United Kingdom, in 1737. It is here that he grew up and went to school when education was not compulsory. He helped the father in the making of the Stays. Being a Brit, Thomas was one of the few people who were against the colonization induced by England by other countries. For this reason, he later moved to America to help in the revolution against English colonization. It is in America that Thomas wrote the various p[amplest and sent them to the people. Such included Common Sense, a pamphlet that he used to challenge the people to put pressure on the colonizers to liberate themselves from slavery. During this time, he learned various techniques for dealing with the people in power. It was after learning of the proposed revolution in France 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’s Argument regarding the Trial of Louise XIV

It could be anticipated that Thomas Paine would be involved in the French Revolution. His travel to France came at a time when the royal government was under attack from other revolutionists who were implementing a poor governing system. 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 provided suitable conditions for the trial. 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 into 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 an all-inclusive government in place and the need to have power over the people. However, this argument is seen to have been ignored as the king was later executed. However, this argument was seen to make 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 the 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 Thomas’s argument 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 supported the punishment of the king and 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 trial had to be based on a 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 learned this in England, he knew exactly what was likely to happen if the monarchy leader was executed.

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 spreading information to the Americans about 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 in fighting against the Monarchical government.

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

The spectrum of political opinions 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 Republicans, 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 to 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 did not intend 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 during the French Revolution were paramount. Having been brought up in Britain, he had a good foundation of 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, taking part in the American Revolution against the British colony also forms part of the 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’s 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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