Brian Wormald provides a fundamental reappraisal of one of the most complex and innovative figures of the late-Elizabethan and Jacobean age. In the centuries since his death, Francis Bacon (1561-1626) has been perceived and studied as a promoter and prophet of the philosophy of science--natural science--but he saw himself also as a clarifier and promoter of what he called "policy" or the study and improvement of the structure and function of civil states. Mr. Wormald shows that Bacon was concerned equally with the knowledge of the world of nature and with that of policy. The junction between the two enterprises was effected by his work in history; and in the end it was Bacon's conception and practice of history that provided the answer to his efforts to advance policy and natural philosophy.
"Wormald provides important insights into Bacon's natural philosophy in the process of examining the similarities between his natural and civil philosophy programs." American Historical Review "...a fresh and methodical reading of the Baconian corpus that no future scholar will be able to ignore." Canadian Journal of history "To my mind, this rich, complex study repays the effort that must be expended on it...Wormald shows what a vast, and at the same time flawed, intellectual giant Bacon was." A. Rupert Hall, Nature "Wormald resists any fast flights to the easy, familiar generalizations about Bacon; rather throughout his study he remains centered in and on the texts of Bacon...To gain a formidable understanding of a past thinker, text and context must be brought together...to accomplish it with integrity and also advance our understanding is a test of any genujne, scholarly contribution...In opening a number of new vistas to Bacon, Wormald suceeds in this and to our benefit." Dominic J. Balestra, Sixteenth Century Journal "Wormald's reading of Bacon's philosophy, and especially of the importance of the historical component within it, is often rewarding." F.J. Levy, Albion "...this study represents a fresh look at Francis Bacon. Its argument possesses strength and persuasiveness based on a close examination of primary sources. It is a significant contribution." George Ouwendijk, Renaissance Quarterly