Common Sense is Thomas Paine’s great work in which he argued for the America Colonies’ rejection of the rule of England’s monarchy and the rule of King George III. Paine famously argues by a commentary used for political means that 1 Samuel 8 is a rejection of Monarchy writing:
“As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty, as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings. All anti-monarchial parts of scripture have been very smoothly glossed over in monarchial governments, but they undoubtedly merit the attention of countries which have their governments yet to form.”
In reality, Thomas Paine’s statement just isn’t true by fact. Paine’s opinion is a similar opinion expressed by John Calvin in the Institutes. It is also addressed in a rebuttal of Calvin’s position by St. Robert Cardinal Bellarmine S.J. in De Controversiis. In fact, Thomas Paine’s position isn’t an original position by any means. It was expressed by Calvin. Bellarmine writes:
“Now, John Calvin, in order to altogether block every way in which one usually arrives by disputation to constitute ecclesiastical monarchy, places aristocracy and democracy before all other forms (forms of government).”
There are two aspects to understand to give context to what Bellarmine is explaining in chapter 1 of Book 1 in the De Controversiis. The first is that Calvin is arguing against the authority of the papacy. So, Calvin decided the best course to argue against the papacy is to argue against the legitimacy of Monarchy altogether. The second aspect is to understand is that Bellarmine lumps both republics and pure democracies into the label of democracy. In fact, when Bellarmine speaks about the Roman Republic; he refers to this as a democracy.
Bellarmine explains that Calvin wished for Monarchy to be the worst form of government quoting him from the Institutes:
“Should it be as they would have it, that it is good and also useful that the whole world be compromised by one monarchy, which is still very absurd, but should it be so, still I will never concede that it should flourish in the governance of the Church.” Calvin goes on, “It was always sanctioned by experience itself, not only because the Lord confirmed it by his authority but even more, in that aristocracy is nearer in the form of government he established among the Israelites.”
Bellarmine finishes the first chapter of Book 1 explaining that St. Thomas Aquinas and other Catholic Theologians thoroughly reject this conclusion made by Calvin—and in some respect Thomas Paine’s position found in Common Sense. Bellarmine, a Doctor of the Catholic Church, argues, “among the simple forms the most excellent is Monarchy. Secondly, blended government including all three forms (monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy), on the account of the corruption of human nature is more useful than simple monarchy. Thirdly, after we have excluded all other circumstances, simple monarchy simply and absolutely excels.
Bellarmine’s examination indicates that Paine’s thesis was a position that was one that was debated in scholarly fashion between two scholars of great caliber in the 16th century. In part three of this series, I will examine how Bellarmine takes on the ‘anti-monarchical’ scriptural passages head-on, and, in fact, argue that they are not ‘anti-monarchical’ but are in support of Monarchy and have been taken out of context by Thomas Paine in Common Sense.
 Robert Bellarmine, trans. Ryan Grant, De Controversiis: On The Roman Pontiff Vol. 1 Post Falls: Mediatrix Press, 2017), 13.
 Ibid, 14.