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Francis Bacon

1561-1626

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam of Verulam, Viscount St Albans, was an English statesman, lawyer, philosopher and essayist. He was born on January 22, 1561 in London, the younger son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1573 to 1575. He was admitted to Gray's Inn (a London law school) in 1576, called to the bar in 1582, and entered Parliament in 1584. Bacon suffered a serious setback to his political ambitions in 1593, when Queen Elizabeth I took exception to his opposition to the expense of the war against Spain. 1597 saw the publication of his famous Essays.

Elizabeth died in 1603, and Bacon was knighted in the same year by her successor, James I. In 1605, he published The Advancement of Learning, in which he considered the current state of knowledge and its deficiencies. He married in 1606, and became solicitor general in 1607. De Sapientia Veterum ('The Wisdom of the Ancients') came out in 1609, detailing Bacon's ideas of the veiled practical meanings of old myths. 1613 saw his promotion to attorney general, and by 1618 he was Lord Chancellor, taking the title Lord Verulam (from the Latin name of St Albans).

In 1621, two charges of bribery were made against him, and Bacon was removed from office and imprisoned for a short time in the Tower of London. His debarment from public office allowed him to spend his final years writing. Bacon's distrust of the deductive logic of Aristotle gave rise to his championing of empiricism and belief that truth is not given by authority, and his works gave impetus to the scientific method. He caught a chill after stuffing a hen with snow to observe the effect of cold on putrefaction, and died of bronchitis on April 9, 1626. He was buried in St Michael's Church, St Albans.



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