The History of the Reign of King Henry the Seventh

By Francis Bacon | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

According to no less a judge than David Hume, Francis Bacon was a man of many and impressive talents: public speaker and master of practical affairs, wit and courtier, author and philosopher, and the glory of English literature in the time of James I.1. This extraordinary man was born into a respected and well-connected family in 1561. His father was Queen Elizabeth's Lord Keeper of the Seal; his mother was the daughter of Edward VI's tutor and the sister of Lady Burghley, the wife of Elizabeth's chief minister and adviser, William Cecil. Yet despite these connections, Bacon's rise to political prominence was rather slow. His father's death in 1579 left him bereft of resources and dependent on Cecil who, favoring his son Robert, did not promote Bacon's interests. Thus in 1584, then a barrister, Bacon began a career in Parliament as an alternative to the place in court he desired. There he stayed for thirty-six years, during which time he further injured his chances for advancement by opposing, in 1593, Queen Elizabeth's scheme to raise taxes.

Bacon did his best to curry favor with Elizabeth, going so far as to join in the prosecution for treason, in 1601, of his former friend and patron Robert Devereau, the second earl of Essex. Bacon had been a member of the group of courtiers and intellectuals (including the so- called Tacitean historians, such as Henry Savile, John Hayward, and Henry Cuffe) who circled around Essex in the 1590s. Essex had tried

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1.
David Hume, The History of England, 5 vols. ( Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen, & Haffelfinger, 1873), 4:525.

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The History of the Reign of King Henry the Seventh
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Note on the Text and Sources 19
  • Note on the Annotation 21
  • The History of the Reign of King Henry the Seventh 23
  • Interpretive Essay 213
  • Index 253
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