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January 22, 1561|
Strand, London, England
April 9, 1626|
Highgate, Middlesex, England
|Cause of death||Pneumonia|
|Alma mater||Cambridge University|
|Era||English Renaissance, The Scientific Revolution|
|School||Renaissance Philosophy, Empiricism|
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St. Alban [a] KC, (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626), 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.
He was born in London, the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, and the nephew of Queen Elizabeth's advisor, William Cecil. 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. He became a friend of Robert Deveraux, the Earl of Essex, in 1591, and received many valuable gifts from him. 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. When King James became king in 1603, Bacon's position improved. He was knighted in 1603. He was one of the people who argued for the joining of England and Scotland together as one country, which happened after his lifetime, in the 1700s. Bacon married Alice Barnham in 1606, and the next year he was made the Solicitor General. 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.
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]
- 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).
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- Archival material relating to Francis Bacon listed at the UK National Archives
- Francis Bacon entry by Juergen Klein in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Works by Francis Bacon at Project Gutenberg
- The Francis Bacon Society
- Contains the New Organon, slightly modified for easier reading
- Francis Bacon of Verulam. Realistic Philosophy and its Age (1857) by Kuno Fischer and John Oxenford in English
Sir Thomas Egerton
| Lord High Chancellor
| Attorney General of England and Wales
|Parliament of England (to 1707)|
| Member of Parliament for Taunton
| Member of Parliament for Liverpool
| Member of Parliament for Middlesex
Sir John Peyton
|Peerage of England|
Title granted by
James I of England
| Baron Verulam
Title granted by
James I of England
| Viscount St Alban|