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Francis Bacon , First Baron Verulam, Viscount of Saint Albans and Chancellor of England (Strand (London), January 22, 1561-Highgate, Middlesex, April 9, 1626) was a celebrated English philosopher, politician, lawyer and writer, father of philosophical and scientific empiricism.
He developed in his De dignitate et augmentis scientiarumn (From the dignification and progress of science) an empirical theory of knowledge and defined the rules of the experimental scientific method in his Novum Organum, which made him one of the pioneers of thought He also introduced the genre of the essay in England.
He was the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, appointed guardian of the Great Seal by Queen Elizabeth I. His mother, Anne Cooke Bacon, second wife of Sir Nicholas, was the niece of Sir Anthony Cooke, spoke five languages and was considered a of the most enlightened women of his time. He was educated by his mother in the principles of Calvinist puritanism.
Although it has not been established with certainty, there are reasons to believe that Bacon was educated by preceptors in his home during his early years, and his health during this period, as well as after, was quite fragile. In 1573, at the age of 13, he entered the Trinity College in Cambridge, an institution where he studied until 1576 in the company of his older brother, Anthony.
In Cambridge, his research in various sciences led him to the conclusion that the methods used and the results obtained did not correspond and were erroneous. His reverence for Aristotle, who in spite of everything did not seem to have excessive knowledge, contrasted with his detachment from Aristotelian philosophy. In his opinion, philosophy required a true commitment and new methods to achieve it. With this first germ of the idea that would consecrate him, Bacon left the university.
On June 27, 1576, both brothers entered De societate magistrorum and a few months later they were assigned to France as attachés of Ambassador Sir Amyas Paulet. The political and social situation in France during the reign of Henry III gave young Francis a valuable political experience, being involved in some complex and delicate diplomatic efforts. Although he lived in Poitiers, he also visited Paris and the main French cities and collected reports on the resources and political situation of different European countries, reports that have been published among his works under the title of Notes on the State of Christendom (“Notes about the state of Christianity “), although, as the historian James Spedding pointed out, it seems to be work rather than an assistant of his brother Anthony. Later, in addition, he read the Essays of the French Michel de Montaigne (1580 and 1595), a genre that strengthened his rationalist skepticism and that he later introduced in England by writing Essays himself (1597).
Upon learning of his father’s sudden death in 1579, Francis returned to England. The modest inheritance that left him, insufficient to place his youngest son in a comfortable position, forced him to adopt the profession of law. With these studies and his literary and diplomatic works Bacon aspired to achieve an important political position, so he frequented the circle of the Earl of Essex, who became his protector during the reign of Elizabeth I of England, and became a member of the House of Commons (1592). At last he entered the royal orbit when James I of England came to the throne in 1603. The monarch was a lover of erudition and Bacon stood out among his favorites. He thus received progressive and growing positions and honors: royal lawyer (1607), attorney general (1613), attorney general (1615), member of the Privy Council (1616), minister of justice (1617), Lord Guardian of the seal and finally Lord Chancellor at fifty-seven years (1618), culminating in his political career. He was also granted the title of baron of Verulam and Viscount of San Albano. As a lawman he was the judge who sentenced Sir Walter Raleigh (1618) and Sir Thomas Howard (1619) to death.
Later Bacon was involved in political intrigues that accused him of discrediting the King; even in 1621 he was accused of corruption and mistreatment of his subordinates. However, Bacon managed to overcome these insidious and with a great wealth accumulated in the exercise of his public work, with which he was able to retire devoted in advance and exclusively to his philosophical and scientific works. After publishing his main works, he died in London in 1626 because of pneumonia.
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