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Roger Bacon

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss medieval English scholar Roger Bacon, an early pioneer of science who became known as Doctor Mirabilis.

The 13th-century English philosopher Roger Bacon is perhaps best known for his major work the Opus Maius. Commissioned by Pope Clement IV, this extensive text covered a multitude of topics from mathematics and optics to religion and moral philosophy. He is also regarded by some as an early pioneer of the modern scientific method. Bacon's erudition was so highly regarded that he came to be known as 'Doctor Mirabilis' or 'wonderful doctor'. However, he is a man shrouded in mystery. Little is known about much of his life and he became the subject of a number of strange legends, including one in which he allegedly constructed a mechanical brazen head that would predict the future.


Jack Cunningham
Academic Coordinator for Theology at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln

Amanda Power
Associate Professor of Medieval History at the University of Oxford

Elly Truitt
Associate Professor of Medieval History at Bryn Mawr College

Producer: Victoria Brignell.

Available now

51 minutes

Last on

Thu 20 Apr 2017 21:30


Amanda Power at the University of Oxford

Elly Truitt at Bryn Mawr College

Jack Cunningham at Bishop Grosseteste University

Roger Bacon – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon – volume 2, translated by Robert Belle Burke (1928)

‘A Mirror for Every Age: The Reputation of Roger Bacon’ by Amanda Power

Roger Bacon by Jeremiah Hackett - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Roger Bacon – Wikipedia

The International Robert Grosseteste Society

The Ordered Universe Project - Interdisciplinary Readings of Medieval Science: Robert Grosseteste

Ibn al-Haytham - Muslim Heritage website

Al-Kindi – Muslim Heritage website

‘Celestial Divination and Arabic Science in Twelfth-Century England: The History of Gerbert of Aurillac’s Talking Head’ by Elly Truitt



Robert Belle Burke (trans.), The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon, volumes 1 and 2 (first published 1928; Kessinger Publishing, 2010)

Jeremiah Hackett (ed.), Roger Bacon and the Sciences: Commemorative Essays (Brill, 1997)

James Hannam, God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science (Icon Books, 2010)

Richard Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, 2011)

James McEvoy, Robert Grosseteste: Great Medieval Thinkers (Oxford University Press, 2000)

Amanda Power, Roger Bacon and the Defence of Christendom (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Catherine Rider, Magic and Religion in Medieval England (Reaktion Books, 2012)

Neslihan Senocak, The Poor and the Perfect: The Rise of Learning in the Franciscan Order, 1209-1310 (Cornell University Press, 2012)


Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Jack Cunningham
Interviewed Guest Amanda Power
Interviewed Guest Elly Truitt
Producer Victoria Brignell


  • Thu 20 Apr 2017 09:00
  • Thu 20 Apr 2017 21:30

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