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Mary Berry

revised by Peter Loewen

(b nr Ilchester, c1214; d Oxford, c1292). English theologian and philosopher, the most immediate successor to the science of Robert Grosseteste and Adam Marsh. Bacon studied in Oxford between 1228 and 1236, then in Paris. Some time between 1245 and 1256 he entered the order of friars minor. In 1247 he gave up his official teaching in Paris, returning some three years later to Oxford. His expertise appears to have concentrated in the quadrivium in general, and geometry in particular. Later critics tended to romanticize his conflict with superiors of his order, turning him into a kind of hero of experimental science and empirical observation.

In a letter dated June 22, 1266, pope Clement IV requested a copy of Bacon's philosophical writings. Bacon’s communication about the project had begun with Raymond de Laon, clerk to Guy le Gros de Foulques, Archbishop of Narbonne and Cardinal-Bishop of St. Sabina before Guy became pope Clement IV. Although the friars had been prohibited since 1260 from publishing new works without the approbation of their superiors, Bacon responded by composing a ...