[Note: I began writing this and had intended to finish and publish it before the big snow storm. Alas, that did not happen. Here is what I had saved.]
This is not a book report on Francis Bacon so I’m not going to re-hash what you can find in a decent encyclopedia or on Wikipedia. Here are a few facts for context. (References are cited by [#] and listed at the end.)
- b.1561; d.1626
- Elizabeth I (a “good” monarch) was Queen when Bacon was born; James I (a “bad” monarch) was King until a year before he died.
- Positions held: Parliamentarian, Attorney General, Lord High Chancellor of England (among other lesser)
- Contemporaries: Shakespeare, Galileo Galilei, Montaigne, Cervantes, Spencer, Donne, Michaelangelo, Ben Johnson, Kepler, Decartes
- Things that happened in his life time (whether he knew of them or not) : Great Lakes “discovered” by European explorers; Francis Drake led first voyage around the globe; lost colony of Roanoke was settled; European Wars of Religion; invention of thermometer, telescope, and compass; Lutheranism, Calvanism dominated northern Europe; Pilgrims established colony at Plymouth Rock; Human circulatory system described by Harvey; magnetism described; = sign first used!; tables of logarithms first published; 1st SLIDE RULE; tobacco and sweet potatoes introduced to England; invention of donuts and pant pockets; Dike failure in Holland
So who was Bacon, really? It very much depends on whom you ask.
To Will and Ariel Durant  Bacon was part of generation of men which ushered in “the ‘death of God’ as an external entity.”
To Albert Schweitzer  of Albert Schweitzer fame, Bacon was the “worm-eaten personality … who drafts the program of the modern world view.”
To Reichenbach  Bacon is a philosophical prophet whose work “occupies a leading place in world literature.”
To Copelston  Bacon is the “first outstanding philosopher of post-medieval England [whose] name will forever be associated with the Renaissance.”
To Russell  Bacon “could have done better if he had been less concerned with worldly success.”
To Lord Acton  Bacon was “the possessor of the most powerful intellect of the era.”
Francis Bacon was a politically ambitious genius. Politically, he rose to the second highest office in the land and tried, but failed, to lead King James I. (James’ fault, not Bacon’s.) He changed the course of science– and thus the world (?)– forever. He re-directed philosophy. And he gave us the essays.
Kindle version here. It’s FREE!!
References with links to books below.
 Bruce Wetterau. The New York Public Library Book of Chronologies. Prentice Hall Press, New York. 1990.
 Will and Ariel Durant. The Lessons of History. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York. 1968.
 Albert Schweitzer. The Philosophy of Civilization First American Edition. The Macmillan Company, New York. 1949.
 Hans Reichenbach. The Rise of Scientific Philosophy. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. 1951.
 Frederick Copleston. A History of Philosophy: Volume 3 Late Mediaeval and Renaissance Philosophy Part II The Revival of Platonism to Suárez New Revised Edition. Image Books, Garden City, New York.1963.
 Bertrand Russell. The History of Western Philosophy And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. Simon and Schuster, New York. 1945.
 Lord Acton. Sir A.W. Ward, Sir G.W. Prothero, and Sir Stanley Leathes, eds. The Cambridge Modern History Volume III: The Wars of Religion. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 1934.