Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon

Infobox Philosopher
region = Western philosophy
era = Renaissance philosophy
color = #B0C4DE

image_caption = Sir Francis Bacon
name = Francis Bacon
birth = birth date|df=yes|1561|1|22
London, England
death = death date and age|df=yes|1626|4|9|1561|1|22
Highgate, England
school_tradition = Empiricism, materialism.
influences = Machiavelli
main_interests =

Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban KC QC (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, and author. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. He is also known as a catalyst of the scientific revolution. His most celebrated works included his "The New Atlantis". Bacon was knighted in 1603, created Baron Verulam in 1618, and created Viscount St Alban in 1621; without heirs, both peerages became extinct upon his death.


Early life

Francis Bacon was born at York House on the Strand in London on 22 January 1561.William Rawley (Bacon's personal secretary and chaplain) "Resuscitatio, or, Bringing into Publick Light Several Pieces of the Works, Civil, Historical, Philosophical, & Theological, Hitherto Sleeping; of the Right Honourable Francis Bacon....Together with his Lordship's Life" 1657. "Francis Bacon, the glory of his age and nation, the adorner and ornament of learning, was born in York House, or York Place, in the Strand, on the two and twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord 1560."] He was the youngest of five sons of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal under Elizabeth I. His mother, Ann Cooke, was Sir Nicholas's second wife - a daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke and a member of the Reformed Puritan Church. His maternal aunt married William Cecil (Lord Burghley), the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I.

Biographers believe that Bacon was educated at home in his early years owing to poor health (which plagued him throughout his life), receiving tuition from John Walsall, a graduate of Oxford with a strong leaning towards Puritanism. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, on 5 April 1573 at the age of twelve, living for three years there together with his older brother Anthony under the personal tutelage of Dr John Whitgift, future Archbishop of Canterbury. Bacon's education was conducted largely in Latin and followed the medieval curriculum. He was also educated at the University of Poitiers. It was at Cambridge that he first met the Queen, who was impressed by his precocious intellect, and was accustomed to calling him "the young Lord Keeper"Fact|date=September 2008.

His studies brought him to the belief that the methods and results of science as then practiced were erroneous. His reverence for Aristotle conflicted with his loathing of Aristotelian philosophy, which seemed to him barren, disputatious, and wrong in its objectives.

On 27 June 1576, he and Anthony entered "de societate magistrorum" at Gray's Inn. A few months later, they went abroad with Sir Amias Paulet, the English ambassador at Paris. The state of government and society in France under Henry III afforded him valuable political instruction. For the next three years he visited Blois, Poitiers, Tours, Italy, and Spain. During his travels, Bacon studied language, statecraft, and civil law while performing routine diplomatic tasks. On at least one occasion he delivered diplomatic letters to England for Walsingham, Burghley, and Leicester, as well as for the queen.

The sudden death of his father in February 1579 prompted Bacon to return to England. Sir Nicholas had laid up a considerable sum of money to purchase an estate for his youngest son, but he died before doing so, and Francis was left with only a fifth of that money. Having borrowed money, Bacon got into debt. To support himself, he took up his residence in law at Gray's Inn in 1579. He made rapid progress. He was admitted to the bar in 1582, he became Bencher in 1586, and he was elected a reader in 1587, delivering his first set of lectures in Lent the following year.


Bacon's threefold goals were to discover truth, to serve his country, and to serve his church. Seeking a prestigious post would aid him toward these ends. In 1580, through his uncle, Lord Burghley, he applied for a post at court, which might enable him to pursue a life of learning. His application failed. For two years he worked quietly at Gray's Inn studying law, until admitted as an outer barrister in 1582.

In 1584, he took his seat in parliament for Melcombe in Dorset, and subsequently for Taunton (1586). At this time, he began to write on the condition of parties in the church, as well as philosophical reform in the lost tract, "Temporis Partus Maximus". Yet, he failed to gain a position he thought would lead him to success. He showed signs of sympathy to Puritanism, attending the sermons of the Puritan chaplain of Gray's Inn and accompanying his mother to the Temple chapel to hear Walter Travers. This led to the publication of his earliest surviving tract, which criticised the English church's suppression of the Puritan clergy. In the Parliament of 1586, openly, he urged execution for Mary Queen of Scots.

About this time, he again approached his powerful uncle for help, the result of which may be traced in his rapid progress at the bar. In 1589, he received the valuable appointment of reversion to the Clerkship of the Star Chamber, although he did not formally take office until 1608 - a post which was worth £16,000 per annum. [Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, volume 2, p.126]

In 1592, he was commissioned to write a response to the Jesuit Robert Parson's anti-government tract entitled 'Certain observations made upon a libel' identifying England with the ideals of Republican Athens against the belligerence of Spain.

Attorney General

Bacon soon became acquainted with Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1567–1601), Queen Elizabeth's favourite. By 1591, he acted as the earl's confidential adviser. Bacon took his seat for Middlesex when in February 1593 Elizabeth called a Parliament to investigate a Roman Catholic plot against her. Bacon's opposition to a bill that would levy triple subsidies in half the usual time offended many people. Opponents accused him of seeking popularity. For a time, the royal court excluded him.

When the Attorney-Generalship fell vacant in 1594, Lord Essex's influence was not enough still to secure Bacon's candidacy into the office. Likewise, Bacon failed to become solicitor in 1595. To console him for these disappointments, Essex presented him with a property at Twickenham, which he sold subsequently for £1,800, the equivalent of around £240,000 in 2006.

In 1596, Bacon became Queen's Counsel, but missed the appointment of Master of the Rolls. During the next few years, his financial situation remained bad. His friends could find no public office for him, and a scheme for retrieving his position by a marriage with the wealthy and young widow Lady Elizabeth Hatton failed after she broke off their relationship upon accepting marriage to a wealthier man. Years later, Bacon still wrote of his regret that the marriage to Elizabeth had never taken place. In 1598 Bacon was arrested because of his debts. Afterwards however, his standing in the queen's eyes improved. Gradually, Bacon earned the standing of one of the learned counsels, though he had no commission or warrant and received no salary. His relationship with the queen further improved when he severed ties with Essex, a shrewd move because Essex was executed for treason in 1601.

With others, Bacon was appointed to investigate the charges against Essex, his former friend and benefactor. Bacon pressed the case hard against Essex. To justify himself, Bacon wrote "A Declaration of the Practices and Treasons, etc., of ... the Earl of Essex". He received a gift of a fine of £1200 on one of Essex's accomplices.

The accession of James I brought Bacon into greater favour. He was knighted in 1603. In another shrewd move, Bacon wrote "Apologie" (defence) about his proceedings in the case of Essex, as Essex had favoured James to ascend to throne. The following year, during the course of the uneventful first parliament session, Bacon married Alice Barnham. In 1608, Bacon began working as the Clerkship of the Star Chamber. In spite of a generous income, old debts and spendthrift ways kept him indebted. He sought further promotion and wealth by supporting King James and his arbitrary policy.

Bacon gained reward with the office of Solicitor in June 1607. In 1610 the famous fourth parliament of James met. Despite Bacon's advice to him, James and the Commons found themselves at odds over royal prerogatives and the king's embarrassing extravagance. The House dissolved in February 1611. Through this, Bacon managed to stay in favor of the king while retaining the confidence of the Commons.

In 1613, Bacon became attorney general, after advising the king to shuffle judicial appointments. As attorney general, Bacon prosecuted Somerset in 1616. The parliament of April 1614 objected to Bacon's presence in the seat for Cambridge and to the various royal plans which Bacon had supported. Although he was allowed to stay, parliament passed a law that forbade the attorney-general to sit in parliament. His influence over the king inspired resentment or apprehension in many of his peers. Bacon continued to receive the King's favour. In 1618, King James appointed Bacon to the position of Lord Chancellor.

Lord Chancellor and public disgrace

Bacon's public career ended in disgrace in 1621. After having fallen into debt, a Parliamentary Committee on the administration of the law charged him with twenty-three separate counts of corruption. To the lords, who sent a committee to inquire whether a confession was really his, he replied, "My lords, it is my act, my hand, and my heart; I beseech your lordships to be merciful to a broken reed." He was sentenced to a fine of £40,000, remitted by King James, to be committed to the Tower of London during the king's pleasure (his imprisonment lasted only a few days). More seriously, parliament declared Bacon incapable of holding future office or sitting in parliament. Narrowly, he escaped being deprived of his titles. Thenceforth the disgraced viscount devoted himself to study and writing.

Historians such as Nieves Mathews believe Bacon may have been innocent of the bribery charges; Bacon himself said that he pleaded guilty by force deliberatelyFact|date=September 2008 so to save the king from a worse political scandal, stating:

"I was the justest judge that was in England these last fifty years. When the book of all hearts is opened, I trust I shall not be found to have the troubled fountain of a corrupt heart. I know I have clean hands and a clean heart. I am as innocent of bribes as any born on St Innocents Day."

Personal relationships

Biographers continue to debate about Bacon's sexual inclinations and the precise nature of his personal relationships. [See opposing opinions of: A. L. Rowse, "Homosexuals in History", New York: Carroll & Garf, 1977. page 44; Jardine, Lisa; Stewart, Alan "Hostage To Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon" Hill & Wang, 1999. page 148; Nieves Mathews, "Francis Bacon: The History of a Character Assassination", Yale University Press, 1996; Ross Jackson, "The Companion to Shaker of the Speare: The Francis Bacon Story", England: Book Guild Publishing, 2005. pages 45 - 46] When he was 36, Francis engaged in the courtship of Elizabeth Hatton, a young widow of 20. Reportedly, she broke off their relationship upon accepting marriage to a wealthier man. Years later, Bacon still wrote of his regret that the marriage to Elizabeth had never taken place.Alfred Dodd, "Francis Bacon's Personal Life Story', Volume 2 - The Age of James", England: Rider & Co., 1949, 1986. pages 157 - 158, 425, 502 - 503, 518 - 532]

At the age of forty five, Bacon married Alice Barnham (1592–1650), the fourteen year old daughter of a well-connected London alderman and M.P. Bacon wrote three sonnets proclaiming his love for Alice. The first sonnet was written during his courtship and the second sonnet on his wedding day, 10 May 1606. The third sonnet was written years later "when by special Warrant of the King, Lady Bacon was given precedence over all other Court ladies" when Bacon was appointed "Regent of the Kingdom": "Let not my Love be call'd Idolatry". Reports of increasing friction in his marriage to Alice appeared, with speculation that some of this may have been due to financial resources not being as readily available to her as she was accustomed to having in the past. Alice was reportedly interested in fame and fortune, and when reserves of money were no longer available, there were complaints about where all the money was going. Alice Chambers Bunten wrote in her "Life of Alice Barnham" [Alice Chambers Bunten, "Life of Alice Barnham, Wife of Sir Francis Bacon", London: Oliphants Ltd. 1928.] that, upon their descent into debt, she actually went on trips to ask for financial favours and assistance from their circle of friends. Bacon disinherited her upon discovering her secret romantic relationship with John Underhill. He rewrote his will, which had previously been very generous to her (leaving her lands, goods, and income), revoking it all.

Several authors, such as A .L. Rowse, author of "Homosexuals in History", [A. L. Rowse, "Homosexuals in History", New York: Carroll & Garf, 1977. page 44] [Jardine, Lisa; Stewart, Alan "Hostage To Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon" Hill & Wang, 1999. page 148] believe that Bacon was either bisexual or homosexual. In 1996, the Journal of Homosexuality published "Masculine Love," Renaissance Writing, and the "New Invention" of Homosexuality: An Addendum in which Charles R. Forker PhD, Professor of English, Department of English at Indiana University explores the "historically documentable sexual preferences" of both King James and Bacon in addition to those of dramatist Christopher Marlowe and of Bacon's brother Anthony - all of whom Forker believed were oriented to "masculine love", a term that "seems to have been used exclusively to refer to the sexual preference of men for members of their own gender." [Journal of Homosexuality, Volume: 31 Issue: 3, 1996, pages 85-93, ISSN: 0091-8369] This conclusion has been disputed by other authors, such as Nieves Mathews, author of "Francis Bacon: The History of a Character Assassination", [Nieves Mathews, "Francis Bacon: The History of a Character Assassination", Yale University Press, 1996] [Ross Jackson, "The Companion to Shaker of the Speare: The Francis Bacon Story", England: Book Guild Publishing, 2005. pages 45 - 46] who consider the sources to be questionable and the conclusions open to interpretation.


In April 1626, Sir Francis Bacon came to Highgate near London, and died at the empty (except for the caretaker) Arundel mansion. A famous and influential account of the circumstances of his death was given by John Aubrey in his "Brief Lives". Aubrey has been criticized for his evident credulousness in this and other works; on the other hand, he knew Thomas Hobbes, the philosopher and friend of Bacon. Aubrey's vivid account, which portrays Bacon as a martyr to experimental scientific method, has him journeying to Highgate through the snow with the King's physician when he is suddenly inspired by the possibility of using the snow to preserve meat. "They were resolved they would try the experiment presently. They alighted out of the coach and went into a poor woman's house at the bottom of Highgate hill, and bought a fowl, and made the woman it". After stuffing the fowl with snow, he happened to contract a fatal case of pneumonia. He then attempted to extend his fading lifespan by consuming the fowl that had caused his illness. Some people, including Aubrey, consider these two contiguous, possibly coincidental events as related and causative of his death: "The Snow so chilled him that he immediately fell so extremely ill, that he could not return to his Lodging ... but went to the Earle of Arundel's house at Highgate, where they put him into ... a damp bed that had not been layn-in ... which gave him such a cold that in 2 or 3 days as I remember Mr Hobbes told me, he died of Suffocation."

Being unwittingly on his deathbed, the philosopher wrote his last letter to his absent host and friend Lord Arundel:

"My very good Lord,—I was likely to have had the fortune of Caius Plinius the elder, who lost his life by trying an experiment about the burning of Mount Vesuvius; for I was also desirous to try an experiment or two touching the conservation and induration of bodies. As for the experiment itself, it succeeded excellently well; but in the journey between London and Highgate, I was taken with such a fit of casting as I know not whether it were the Stone, or some surfeit or cold, or indeed a touch of them all three. But when I came to your Lordship's House, I was not able to go back, and therefore was forced to take up my lodging here, where your housekeeper is very careful and diligent about me, which I assure myself your Lordship will not only pardon towards him, but think the better of him for it. For indeed your Lordship's House was happy to me, and I kiss your noble hands for the welcome which I am sure you give me to it. I know how unfit it is for me to write with any other hand than mine own, but by my troth my fingers are so disjointed with sickness that I cannot steadily hold a pen." [Bacon, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England. A newEdition, ed.Basil Montagu, London: 1825-1834]

He died at Lord Arundel's homeBryant, Mark: "Private Lives", 2001, p.22.] on 9 April 1626, leaving assets of about £7,000 and debts to the amount of £22,000.

This account appears in a biography by William Rawley, Bacon's personal secretary and chaplain:

"He died on the ninth day of April in the year 1626, in the early morning of the day then celebrated for our Saviour's resurrection, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, at the Earl of Arundel's house in Highgate, near London, to which place he casually repaired about a week before; God so ordaining that he should die there of a gentle fever, accidentally accompanied with a great cold, whereby the defluxion of rheum fell so plentifully upon his breast, that he died by suffocation."

At his April 1626 funeral, over thirty great minds collected together their eulogies of him. It is clear from all these eulogies that he was not only loved deeply, but that there was something about his character which led men even of the stature of Ben Jonson to hold him in reverence and awe. A volume of the 32 eulogies was published in Latin in 1730. [W.G.C. Gundry, ed. "Manes Verulamani". This important volume consists of 32 eulogies originally published in Latin shortly after Bacon's funeral in 1626. Bacon's peers refer to him as "a supreme poet" and "a concealed poet," and also link him with the theatre.]

Philosophy and works

Bacon did not propose an actual philosophy, but rather a method of developing philosophy. He wrote that, although philosophy at the time used the deductive syllogism to interpret nature, the philosopher should instead proceed through inductive reasoning from fact to axiom to law. Before beginning this induction, the inquirer is to free his or her mind from certain false notions or tendencies which distort the truth. These are called "Idols" ["Idols" is the usual translation of "idola", but 'illusion' is perhaps a more accurate translation to modern English. See footnote, "The New Organon", ("Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr.", 2000), p.18.] ("idola"), and are of four kinds: "Idols of the Tribe" ("idola tribus"), which are common to the race; "Idols of the Den" ("idola specus"), which are peculiar to the individual; "Idols of the Marketplace" ("idola fori"), coming from the misuse of language; and "Idols of the Theatre" ("idola theatri"), which result from an abuse of authority. The end of induction is the discovery of forms, the ways in which natural phenomena occur, the causes from which they proceed.

Derived through use of his methods, Bacon explicates his somewhat fragmentary ethical system in the seventh and eighth books of his "De augmentis scientiarum" (1623). He distinguishes between duty to the community, an ethical matter, and duty to God, a religious matter. Bacon claimed that [1] any moral action is the action of the human will, which is governed by belief and spurred on by the passions; [2] good habit is what aids men in directing their will toward the good; [3] no universal rules can be made, as both situations and men's characters differ.

Regarding faith, in "De augmentis", he writes that "the more discordant, therefore, and incredible, the divine mystery is, the more honour is shown to God in believing it, and the nobler is the victory of faith." He writes in "The Essays: Of Atheism" that "a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion."

Bacon contrasted the new approach of the development of science with that of the Middle Ages. He said:

"Men have sought to make a world from their own conception and to draw from their own minds all the material which they employed, but if, instead of doing so, they had consulted experience and observation, they would have the facts and not opinions to reason about, and might have ultimately arrived at the knowledge of the laws which govern the material world."
Bacon's works include his "Essays", as well as the "Colours of Good and Evil" and the "Meditationes Sacrae", all published in 1597. His famous aphorism, "knowledge is power", is found in the "Meditations". He published "The Proficience and Advancement of Learning" in 1605. Bacon also wrote "In felicem memoriam Elizabethae", a eulogy for the queen written in 1609; and various philosophical works which constitute the fragmentary and incomplete "Instauratio magna" (Great Renewal), the most important part of which is the "Novum Organum" (New Instrument, published 1620); in this work he cites three world-changing inventions:

"Printing, gunpowder and the compass: These three have changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world; the first in literature, the second in warfare, the third in navigation; whence have followed innumerable changes, in so much that no empire, no sect, no star seems to have exerted greater power and influence in human affairs than these mechanical discoveries." [ - Adapted from the ]

Bacon's Utopia

In 1623 Bacon expressed his aspirations and ideals in "The New Atlantis". Released in 1627, this was his creation of an ideal land where "generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendor, piety and public spirit" were the commonly held qualities of the inhabitants of Bensalem. In this work, he portrayed a vision of the future of human discovery and knowledge. The plan and organization of his ideal college, "Solomon's House", envisioned the modern research university in both applied and pure science.

The New Instrument

The Novum Organum is a philosophical work by Francis Bacon published in 1620. This is a reference to Aristotle's work Organon, which was his treatise on logic and syllogism. In Novum Organum, Bacon details a new system of logic he believes to be superior to the old ways of syllogism. In this work, we see the development of the Baconian method consists of procedures for isolating the form nature, or cause, of a phenomenon, including the method of agreement, method of difference, and method of concomitant variation.

List of published works

*"Essays" (1597)
*"The Elements of the Common Law of England" (1597)
*"A Declaration of the Practises & Treasons Attempted and Committed by Robert, late Earl of Essex and his Complices" (1601)
*"Francis Bacon His Apology, in Certain Imputations Concerning the late Earl of Essex" (1604)
*"Certain Considerations Touching the Better Pacification and Edification of the Chrch of England" (1604)
*"Valerius Terminus of the Interpretation of Nature" (1604)
*"The Proficience and Advancement of Learning" (1605)
*"De sapientia veterum liber" (1609)
*"The Charge of Sir Francs Bacon, Knight, the King's Attorney-General, Touching Duels" (1614)
*"The Wisdom of the Ancients" (1619)
*Novum Organum (1620)
*"The History of the Reign of King Henry the Seventh" (1622)
*"Apophthegms, New and Old" (1625)
*"The Translation of Certain Psalms" (1625)
*The New Atlantis (1626)
*"Sylva Sylvarum" (1627)
*"Scripta in naturali et universli philisophia" (pub. 1653)


Bacon's ideas about the improvement of the human lot were influential in the 1630s and 1650s among a number of Parliamentarian scholars. During the Restoration, Bacon was commonly invoked as a guiding spirit of the Royal Society founded under Charles II in 1660. [Julian Martin, "Francis Bacon: The State and the Reform of Natural Philosophy", 1992] [Byron Steel, "Sir Francis Bacon: The First Modern Mind", Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran and Co., Inc., 1930] In the nineteenth century his emphasis on induction was revived and developed by William Whewell, among others. [Peter Urbach, "Francis Bacon's Philosophy of Science", Open Court Publishing Co., 1987. A study which argues from a close consideration of Bacon's actual words in context, that he was immensely more sophisticated and modern than is generally allowed. Bacon's reputation as a philosopher of science has sunk since the 17th and early 18th centuries, when he was accorded the title "Father of Experimental Philosophy".]

North America

There are some scholars who believe that Bacon's vision for a Utopian New World in North America was laid out in his novel "The New Atlantis". He envisioned a land where there would be greater rights for women, the abolishing of slavery, elimination of debtors' prisons, separation of church and state, and freedom of religious and political expression. [Harvey Wheeler, "Francis Bacon’s Case of the Post-Nati:(1608); Foundations of Anglo-American Constitutionalism; An Application of Critical Constitutional Theory", Ward, 1998] [Howard B. White, "Peace Among the Willows: The Political Philosophy of Francis Bacon", The Hague Martinus Nijhoff, 1968] [Harvey Wheeler, "Francis Bacon’s "Verulamium": the Common Law Template of The Modern in English Science and Culture", 1999] [Frances Yates, "(essay) Bacon's Magic, in Frances Yates, Ideas and Ideals in the North European Renaissance", London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984] Francis Bacon played a leading role in creating the British colonies, especially in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Newfoundland. His government report on “The Virginia Colony” was made in 1609. Francis Bacon and his associates formed the Newfoundland Colonization Company and in 1610 sent John Guy to found a colony in Newfoundland. In 1910 Newfoundland issued a postage stamp to commemorate Francis Bacon's role in establishing Newfoundland. The stamp states about Bacon, "the guiding spirit in Colonization Schemes in 1610."Alfred Dodd, "Francis Bacon's Personal Life Story', Volume 2 - The Age of James", England: Rider & Co., 1949, 1986. pages 157 - 158, 425, 502 - 503, 518 - 532]

Religious influence

Francis Bacon's influence can also be seen on a variety of religious and spiritual authors, and on groups that have utilized his writings in their own belief systems. [Saint Germain Foundation. "The History of the "I AM" Activity and Saint Germain Foundation". Schaumburg, Illinois: Saint Germain Press 2003] [Luk, A.D.K.. "Law of Life — Book II". Pueblo, Colorado: A.D.K. Luk Publications 1989, pages 254 - 267] ["White Paper - Wesak World Congress 2002". Acropolis Sophia Books & Works 2003.] [Partridge, Christopher ed. "New Religions: A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities" Oxford University Press, USA 2004.] [Schroeder, Werner "Ascended Masters and Their Retreats" Ascended Master Teaching Foundation 2004, pages 250 - 255]

Modern portrayals

In cinema, Bacon has been most memorably portrayed by Donald Crisp in "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" (1939) starring Bette Davis and Errol Flynn. He was also played in the 2005 Golden Globe winning mini-series "Elizabeth I" by Will Keen (with Helen Mirren in the title role). On television, John Nettleton played Bacon in the 1970s BBC production of Elizabeth R starring Glenda Jackson.

Historical debates and fringe theories

Bacon and Shakespeare

The Baconian theory of Shakespearean authorship holds that Sir Francis Bacon wrote the plays conventionally attributed to William Shakespeare.

The mainstream view is that William Shakespeare of Stratford, an actor in the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later the King's Men), wrote the poems and plays that bear his name. The Baconians, however, hold that scholars are so focused on the details of Shakespeare's life that they neglect to investigate the many facts that they see as connecting Bacon to the Shakespearean work. The main Baconian evidence is founded on the presentation of a motive for concealment, the circumstances surrounding the first known performance of The Comedy of Errors, the close proximity of Bacon to the William Strachey letter upon which many scholars think The Tempest was based, perceived allusions in the plays to Bacon's legal acquaintances, the many supposed parallels with the plays of Bacon's published work and entries in the Promus (his private wastebook), Bacon's interest in civil histories, and ostensible autobiographical allusions in the plays. Because Bacon had first-hand knowledge of government cipher methods, most Baconians see it as feasible that he left his signature somewhere in the Shakespearean work.

Supporters of the standard view, often referred to as "Stratfordian" or "Mainstream", dispute all contentions in favour of Bacon, and criticize Bacon's poetry as not being comparable in quality with that of Shakespeare.

Secret societies

Francis Bacon often gathered with the men at Gray's Inn to discuss politics and philosophy, and to try out various theatrical scenes that he admitted writing. [Frances Yates, "Theatre of the World", London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969] Bacon's alleged connection to the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons has been widely discussed by authors and scholars in many books. [Bryan Bevan, "The Real Francis Bacon", England: Centaur Press, 1960] However others, including Daphne du Maurier (in her biography of Bacon), have argued there is no substantive evidence to support claims of involvement with the Rosicrucians. [Daphne du Maurier, "The Winding Stair, Biography of Bacon" 1976.] Historian Dame Frances Yates [Frances Yates, "The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age", pages 61 - 68, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979] does not make the claim that Bacon was a Rosicrucian, but presents evidence that he was nevertheless involved in some of the more closed intellectual movements of his day. She argues that Bacon's movement for the advancement of learning was closely connected with the German Rosicrucian movement, while Bacon's "The New Atlantis" portrays a land ruled by Rosicrucians. He apparently saw his own movement for the advancement of learning to be in conformity with Rosicrucian ideals. [Frances Yates, "The Rosicrucian Enlightenment", London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972] In 1618 Francis Bacon decided to secure a lease for York House. This had been his boyhood home in London next to the Queen's York Place before the Bacon family had moved to Gorhambury in the countryside. Upon the passing of Lord Egerton (Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England), it now was available for Bacon to lease it. During the next four years this mansion on the Strand (so large that it had 40 fireplaces) served as the home for Francis and Alice Bacon. Over the next four years Bacon would host banquets at York House that were attended by the leading men of the time, including poets, scholars, authors, scientists, lawyers, diplomats, and foreign dignitaries. Within the banquet hall, Francis gathered the greatest leaders in literature, art, law, education, and social reform. On 22 January, 1621 in honour of Sir Francis Bacon's sixtieth birthday, a select group of men assembled in the large banquet hall in York House without fanfare for what has been described as a Masonic banquet.Helene H. Armstrong, "Francis Bacon - The Spear Shaker", San Francisco, California: Golden Gate Press, 1985 ISBN 0-9616288-0-4] This banquet was to pay tribute to Sir Francis Bacon. Only those of the Rosicrosse (Rosicrucians) and the Masons who were already aware of Bacon's leadership role were invited. The tables were T-tables with gleaming white drapery, silver, and decorations of flowers. The poet Ben Jonson, a long-time friend of Bacon, gave a Masonic ode to Bacon that day. He had once remarked of Bacon, "I love the man and do honour his memory above all others." [W. C. F. Wigston, "Bacon, Shakespeare and the Rosicrucians", London England, 1888] There was a depth of love by a large body of men toward Bacon, similar to some degree in the manner that disciples love a Master. [Helen Veale, "Son of England", India: Indo Polish Library, 1950] This is especially true when taking into account his membership (and some say leadership) of secret societies such as the Rosicrucians and Freemasons. In the inner esoteric membership, which included Francis Bacon, vows of celibacy for spiritual reasons were encouraged.Peter Dawkins, "Dedication to the Light", England: Francis Bacon Research Trust, 1984] [Frances Yates, "Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition", London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964]

Parentage theories

A small number of authors have theorized that Francis Bacon could have been the unacknowledged son of Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester [Richardson, Jerusha D. "The Lover Of Queen Elizabeth: Being The Life And Character Of Robert Dudley Earl Of Leicester 1533-1588" T. W. Laurie 1907 (Reprint: Kessinger 2006 ISBN-1428612491)] [Comyns Beaumont, "The Private Life of the Virgin Queen", London England, 1947] [Alfred Dodd, "The Marriage of Elizabeth Tudor", Rider, 1940. Still maintained as a State secret the author presents allegedly detailed historical evidence that the "virgin queen" not only married Robert Dudley but had two offspring with him.] and that Elizabeth's other secret biological son was Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (whom the Queen forced Bacon to prosecute for treason). There is documented evidence that Elizabeth visited Nicholas Bacon's house at Gorhambury at least twice and was entertained by the eight or nine year old Francis.Jean Overton Fuller, "Sir Francis Bacon: A Biography", East-West Publications, 1981.] [Arthur Cornwall, "Francis the First Unacknowledged King of Great Britain and Ireland", 1936]

Alfred Dodd (writing in the first half of the c.20th) claimed that by the age of fifteen Bacon was frequently present at the Elizabethan Court. Robert Cecil allegedly would whisper the secret to the ladies of the Court. The Queen, overhearing Lady Scales, repeating the story, is said to have seized the girl and beat her furiously. Bacon intervened. Enraged that he should take the girl's part, Elizabeth added: "Though you are my own child, I bar you from the Succession for withstanding your mother." Anne Bacon is said to have confirmed the story, adding the Queen was married in a secret ceremony on 21 January 1561 in the house of Lord Pembroke, and that Nicholas Bacon had been one of the witnesses. Alfred Dodd, "Secret History of Francis Bacon", London: The C. W. Daniel Company Ltd. 1941. pages 16 - 17, 97 - 102] No other modern-day historians or biographers have produced any evidence whatsover to support Dodd's claim.


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at:1561 text:Born in London, England at:1573 fontsize:m text:Ed. at Trinity Coll. Cambridge; dissatisfied with Aristotelean philosophy at:1579 text:Entered Gray's Inn from:1576 till:1579 text:In France at:1582 text:Called to Bar at:1584 text:Enters Parliament of England at:1591 text:Became friend of Essex at:1593 text:Essex presented him with estate at:1597 text:Published first ed of Essays at:1601 text:Prosecuted Essex at:1605 text:Published Advancement of Learning at:1607 text:Solicitor General at:1609 text:Published Wisdom of the Ancients at:1613 text:Attorney General at:1616 text:Prosecuted Somerset at:1618 fontsize:m text:Lord Keeper at:1619 fontsize:m text:Lord Chancellor with title of Verulam at:1620 fontsize:m text:Published Novum Organum at:1621 fontsize:m text:Viscount St Albans; Charged with corruption, retired from public life. at:1622 fontsize:m text:Published Henry VII and third part of Instauratio at:1626 text:Death

ee also

* The Baconian theory of Shakespearean authorship
* Baconian method
* Bacon's cipher
* Francis Bacon School
* Cestui que (Defense and Comment on Chudleigh's Case)



*"Material originally from the 1911 Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religion."
*"Material originally from the 1912 Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religion."
*A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature
*John Farrell, "The Science of Suspicion." "Paranoia and Modernity: Cervantes to Rousseau" (Cornell UP, 2006), chapter six.
*"Our Western Heritage" Roselle / Young: Chapter five "The 'Scientific Revolution' and the 'Intellectual Revolution'".

External links

*gutenberg author|id=Francis_Bacon|name=Francis Bacon
* [ Works by/about Francis Bacon] , from Internet Archive. Scanned, illustrated original editions.
* [ Francis Bacon Books]
* [ Online editions of Bacon's works]
* [ Essays by Francis Bacon at]
* [ The Essays: Francis Bacon]
* [ Novum Organum Online]
* [ Sir Francis Bacon's New Advancement of Learning]
* [ "Dictionary of the History of Ideas":] Baconianism
*Rictor Norton, [ "Sir Francis Bacon"] quotes excised passages of Sir Simonds D'Ewes
* [ Quotations Book - Francis Bacon]
*sep entry|francis-bacon|Francis Bacon|Juergen Klein
* [ The Twickenham Museum - Sir Francis Bacon]
* [ Henry Wotton employed by Bacon's intelligence system]
* [ Francis Bacon Research Trust - Studies of Bacon's connections to the Rosicrucians, Freemasonry, Shakespeare]
* [ A more easily readable version of the New Organon]
* [ Francis Bacon at "Thoemmes Continuum"]
* [ Cryptographic Shakespeare]
* [ The Works of Sir Francis Bacon]
* [,%20Francis.html Famous quotes by Francis Bacon]

NAME=Bacon, Francis
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, Francis (full name and title); Verulam, Baron (title); St Alban, Viscount (title)
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Philosopher and statesman
DATE OF BIRTH=birth date|1561|1|22|df=y
PLACE OF BIRTH=Strand, London, England
DATE OF DEATH=death date|1626|4|9|df=y
PLACE OF DEATH=Highgate, London, England

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  • Francis Bacon — (Baron Baco von Verulam; lat.: Baco oder Baconus de Verulamio; * 22. Januar 1561 in London; † 9. April 1626 in Highgate) war ein englischer Philosoph und Staatsmann sowie Wegbereiter des Empirismus …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Francis Bacon — Bacon Bacon, Francis Bacon Francis Baconprop. n. Francis Bacon. A celebrated English philosopher, jurist, and statesman, son of Sir Nicholas Bacon. Born at York House, London, Jan. 22, 1561: died at Highgate, April 9, 1626, created {Baron… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Francis Bacon — Francis Bacon, conocido también por barón de Verulam, vizconde de San Albano, canciller de Inglaterra y célebre filósofo nacido en York House, Strand Londres el 22 de enero de 1561 y muerto en la misma ciudad en Highgate el 9 de abril de 1626.… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Francis Bacon — Para el pintor irlandés, véase Francis Bacon (pintor). Sir Francis Bacon. Sir Francis Bacon, 1st Baron Verulam, Viscount St Albans KC (22 de enero de 1561 – 9 de abril de 1626), canciller de Inglaterra, fue un célebre filósofo, político, abogado… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Francis Bacon — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Bacon.  Cette page d’homonymie répertorie différentes personnes partageant un même nom. Francis Bacon (1561 1626), philosophe anglais ; Francis Bacon (1909 1992), peintre britanniqu …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Francis Bacon — noun English statesman and philosopher; precursor of British empiricism; advocated inductive reasoning (1561 1626) • Syn: ↑Bacon, ↑Sir Francis Bacon, ↑Baron Verulam, ↑1st Baron Verulam, ↑Viscount St. Albans • Instance Hypernyms: ↑statesman, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Francis Bacon (Peintre) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Bacon et Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon (28 octobre 1909 à Dublin 28 avril 1992 à Madrid) est un peintre irlandais. Il était un descendant collatéral du philosophe Francis Bacon (1561 1626) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Francis bacon (peintre) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Bacon et Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon (28 octobre 1909 à Dublin 28 avril 1992 à Madrid) est un peintre irlandais. Il était un descendant collatéral du philosophe Francis Bacon (1561 1626) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Francis Bacon (pintor) — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Para encontrar información sobre el filósofo inglés, véase Francis Bacon. Casa natal de Bacon en Dublín. Francis Bacon (* …   Wikipedia Español

  • Francis Bacon (disambiguation) — Francis Bacon (1561–1626) was an English Elizabethan philosopher, statesman and essayist.Francis Bacon is also the name of: * Francis Bacon (Ipswich MP) (1600 1663) * Francis Thomas Bacon (1904–1992), English engineer who developed the hydrogen… …   Wikipedia

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