Francis Bacon: Essays and Major Works

Historical debates

Bacon and Shakespeare

The Baconian hypothesis of Shakespearean authorship, first proposed in the mid-19th century, contends that Francis Bacon wrote some or all the plays conventionally attributed to William Shakespeare, in opposition to the scholarly tradition that William Shakespeare of Stratford was the author.

Occult hypotheses

Francis Bacon often gathered with the men at Gray's Inn to discuss politics and philosophy, and to try out various theatrical scenes that he admitted writing.[66] Bacon's alleged connection to the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons has been widely discussed by authors and scholars in many books.[67] However, others, including Daphne du Maurier (in her biography of Bacon), have argued there is no substantive evidence to support claims of involvement with the Rosicrucians.[68] Frances Yates[69] does not make the claim that Bacon was a Rosicrucian, but presents evidence that he was nevertheless involved in some of the more closed intellectual movements of his day. She argues that Bacon's movement for the advancement of learning was closely connected with the German Rosicrucian movement, while Bacon's New Atlantis portrays a land ruled by Rosicrucians. He apparently saw his own movement for the advancement of learning to be in conformity with Rosicrucian ideals.[70]

The link between Bacon's work and the Rosicrucians ideals which Yates allegedly found was the conformity of the purposes expressed by the Rosicrucian Manifestos and Bacon's plan of a "Great Instauration",[70] for the two were calling for a reformation of both "divine and human understanding",[d][71] as well as both had in view the purpose of mankind's return to the "state before the Fall".[e][f]

Another major link is said to be the resemblance between Bacon's "New Atlantis" and the German Rosicrucian Johann Valentin Andreae's "Description of the Republic of Christianopolis (1619)".[72] In his book, Andreae describes a utopic island in which Christian theosophy and applied science ruled, and in which the spiritual fulfillment and intellectual activity constituted the primary goals of each individual, the scientific pursuits being the highest intellectual calling – linked to the achievement of spiritual perfection. Andreae's island also depicts a great advancement in technology, with many industries separated in different zones which supplied the population's needs – which shows great resemblance to Bacon's scientific methods and purposes.[73][74]

The Rosicrucian organisation AMORC claims that Bacon was the "Imperator" (leader) of the Rosicrucian Order in both England and the European continent, and would have directed it during his lifetime.[75]

Bacon's influence can also be seen on a variety of religious and spiritual authors, and on groups that have utilised his writings in their own belief systems.[76][77][78][79][80]

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