Francis Bacon died on this day 386 years ago, at the age of 65. He had sought a life of influence at an early age, becoming a member of parliament at the age of 20, and a barrister the following year. He sympathised with Puritans and opposed religious persecution, while supporting simplification of the law. He became Queen’s Counsel in 1596, was knighted in 1603, became Solicitor-General in 1607, and then Attorney-General in 1613.
Despite his apparent public success, Bacon constantly struggled with payment of debts, and in 1621 a parliamentary committee charged him with numerous counts of corruption. He pleaded guilty to these and was sentenced to a large fine and imprisonment in the Tower of London. The fine was remitted by the king, and his imprisonment was short-lived, but his public disgrace brought an end to his parliamentary career.
Perhaps Bacon’s biggest legacy has been his ideas about the scientific method. Some writers have referred to him as the father of experimental science, and he is regarded as one of the key influencers behind the start of the Industrial age, as a promoter of practical science and inventions. The Statute of Monopolies, regarded as the root of modern patent law, was passed in 1624. Bacon died in 1626 of pneumonia, said to be contracted while experimenting with freezing to preserve meat.