Francis Bacon

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Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon
Full name Francis Bacon
Born January 22, 1561
Strand, London, England
Died April 9, 1626
Highgate, Middlesex, England
Pneumonia
Era English Renaissance, The Scientific Revolution
Region Western philosophy
School Renaissance Philosophy, Empiricism
Signature

Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St. Alban [1][a] KC, (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626)[2], was an English philosopher, statesman, and author. He has been described as one of the greatest thinkers ever whose ideas have changed the way people think.[2]

He was born in London, the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon and the nephew of Queen Elizabeth's advisor, William Cecil[2]. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. His first job was a lawyer. He later became a Member of Parliament and in 1586 he took a leading part in having Mary Queen of Scots executed.[2] He became a friend of Robert Deveraux, the Earl of Essex, in 1591, and received many valuable gifts from him.[2] After Essex led a rebellion against the Queen, Bacon was one of the people who led the investigation which led to Essex's execution in 1601.

Bacon was often in trouble for spending too much, and in 1601 he was arrested for debt.[2] When King James became king in 1603, Bacon's position improved. He was knighted in 1603. He was one of the people appointed to plan the joining of England and Scotland together as one country. He married Alice Barnham in 1606, and the next year he was made the Solicitor General.[2] He continued to be given better paying positions including Attorney General, Lord Keeper, and Lord Chancellor.

He was made Baron Verulam in 1618, and Viscount St Albans in 1621. Because he did not have children both titles ended when he died.

He used his positions to make more money for himself, and in 1621 the Parliament found that he was corrupt. He was fined £40,000 and removed from all his jobs. King James overturned the fine, but he was kept as a prisoner in the Tower of London for a while.[2]

He became best known as a leading thinker in new ways of looking at the world. His writings started and made famous a way of thinking about science. This way of thinking is now called the Baconian method. It is based on looking at the world by making experiments. After watching the results the scientist comes up with an idea to explain what has happened. This idea or hypothesis is then further tested by more experiments. This way of thinking about science is called inductive methodology. In Bacon's time these methods were linked with magic including hermeticism and alchemy. Alchemy was the study of fire, earth, water and air. Alchemists tried to make gold from lead.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. There is some confusion over the spelling of "Viscount St. Alban" Some sources such as the Dictionary of National Biography (1885) and the Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed., 1911) spell the title with "St. Albans" others such as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2007) spell it "St. Alban" ( Fowler 1885, p. 346; Chisholm 1911; Peltonen 2007).

Other websites[change | change source]

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Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Egerton
Lord High Chancellor
1617–1621
Succeeded by
In Commission
Preceded by
Henry Hobart
Attorney General of England and Wales
1613–1617
Succeeded by
Henry Yelverton
Parliament of England (to 1707)
Preceded by
Miles Sandys
Member of Parliament for Taunton
1586–1588
Succeeded by
William Aubrey
Preceded by
Arthur Atye
Member of Parliament for Liverpool
1588–1594
Succeeded by
Thomas Gerard
Preceded by
William Fleetwood
Member of Parliament for Middlesex
1594–1598
Succeeded by
Sir John Peyton
Peerage of England
New title
Title granted by
James I of England
Baron Verulam
1618–1626
Extinct
New title
Title granted by
James I of England
Viscount St Alban
1621–1626