Roger Bacon. A celebrated English philosopher of the thirteenth century. Born at or near Ilchester, Somersetshire, about 1214: died probably at Oxford in 1294. He is credited with a recognition of the importance of experiment in answering questions about the natural world, recognized the potential importance of gunpowder and explosives generally, and wrote comments about several of the physical sciences that anticipated facts proven by experiment only much later. [PJC
"The Franciscan monk, Roger Bacon (c. 1214 - 1294) was an important transitional figure in chemistry as he was trained in the alchemical tradition, but introduced many of the modern concepts of experimental science. Bacon believed that experiment was necessary to support theory, but for him the theory as presented in the Bible was true and the experiment only underlined that truth. One of Bacon's lasting contributions was his references to gunpowder, bringing this discovery to the general attention of literate Europeans.
Gunpowder had been known for centuries in China, being used for fireworks and incendiary grenades. Gunpowder is a simple mixture of charcoal, sulfur, and potassium nitrate (known generally as saltpeter). Saltpeter is a major component of guano (bird droppings) and may be recovered from privies where it will crystallize. By 1324, Europeans had discovered the art of using gunpowder to fire a projectile, marking the end of the period of castles and knights in armor."
"Roger Bacon was Born at or near Ilchester, Somersetshire, about 1214: died probably at Oxford in 1294. He was educated at Oxford and Paris (whence he appears to have returned to England about 1250), and joined the Franciscan order. In 1257 he was sent by his superiors to Paris where he was kept in close confinement for several years. About 1265 he was invited by Pope Clement IV. to write a general treatise on the sciences, in answer to which he composed his chief work, the "Opus Majus." He was in England in 1268. In 1278 his writings were condemned as heretical by a council of his order, in consequence of which he was again placed in confinement. He was at liberty in 1292. Besides the "Opus Majus," his most notable works are "Opus Minus," "Opus Tertium," and "Compendium Philosophiae." See Siebert, "Roger Bacon," 1861; Held, "Roger Bacon's Praktische Philosophie," 1881; and L. Schneider, "Roger Bacon," 1873."
" Dr. Whewell says that Roger Bacon's Opus Majus is "the encyclopedia and Novam Organon of the Thirteenth Century, a work equally wonderful with regard to its general scheme and to the special treatises with which the outlines of the plans are filled up."