"despite building his reputation on the back of excoriating attacks on George III and indeed on the concept of monarchy itself, most famously in his incendiary pamphlet Common Sense (1776), Paine subsequently went to great lengths to defend Louis XVI. To some extent these contradictions can be ascribed to Paine's slow maturation as a writer following his incarceration in France, where he was a political prisoner under daily threat of the guillotine. Having come very near to being destroyed by the very means of violent social change he had once advocated, he began to doubt some of his radical convictions. He emerged a more modest man, no longer convinced that he was charged with a divine mission to lead people to freedom."
Jonathan Pearson, "'Tis then that man will happy be," Times literary supplement, April 30, 2010, 8.