The Rise of the Medieval World, 500-1300: A Biographical Dictionary

By Jana K. Schulman | Go to book overview

B

BACON, ROGER(C. 1214–C. 1293). Bacon was an English master of arts in Paris, a philosopher and experimental scientist, and a Franciscan friar. He proposed a general reorganization, based on Aristotelian philosophy and secular subjects, of all the sciences and religious teaching of his time, with emphasis on experimental procedures and research. In his plan, the foundation of theology must come from the knowledge of nature and physical properties, as well as from Scripture. A polemical and energetic personality, he gave up a traditional university career in order to pursue his scientific interests, which makes his life highly unique among thirteenth-century scholastics.

Independent information on Bacon’s life is rather scarce, and most facts must be deduced from his own writings. He was born c. 1214 at Ilchester, Somerset, into a family of small nobility with royalist tendencies. From an early age, he mastered classical authors such as Cicero and Seneca and showed a propensity for the science of the quadrivium (geometry, mathematics, music, and astronomy), which were part of the medieval secondary education. He enrolled at the Arts Faculty of the University of Oxford around 1228 and acquired an interest for sciences, especially the medieval optical science of Perspectiva, which was taught from translations of Arabic treatises. In Oxford he was greatly influenced by Robert *Grosseteste.

After receiving his M.A. either in Oxford or in Paris around 1237, he taught in Paris as a master of arts between 1237 and 1247 on grammar, logic, natural philosophy, and metaphysics. He lectured extensively on the books of Aristotle, which had been just made available for teaching after their earlier prohibition. In later works, he complained about the gap between the Arts and Theology Faculties regarding their different reception of the new Aristotelian writings. In 1247 he resigned from his university position and devoted himself to a life of study and research, at his own expense. Perhaps influenced by the French poet Richard Fournival, who owned a large collection of books on science and magic,

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The Rise of the Medieval World, 500-1300: A Biographical Dictionary
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • A 1
  • B 46
  • C 88
  • D 118
  • E 123
  • F 140
  • G 155
  • H 189
  • I 230
  • J 240
  • K 260
  • L 262
  • M 282
  • N 309
  • O 317
  • P 333
  • R 358
  • S 387
  • T 412
  • U 423
  • V 428
  • W 431
  • Bibliography 461
  • Name Index 485
  • General Index 493
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