Of Nobility by Francis Bacon: Summary and Analysis

Read our complete notes below on the essay “Of Nobility” by Francis Bacon.

Of Nobility Summary:

The word nobility employs two meanings i.e. First “the nobleness of character” and the second meaning is “the aristocracy”. Bacon discusses the later meaning in his essay in detail. The first part of the essay is all about the later meaning of the word nobility. Bacon says that a Monarchy, the rule of a single person or family, in which there is no nobility at all is absolute tyranny just like in Turkey. To balance the powers of a monarch, aristocracy is an essential element in a sovereign state. The nobility or aristocracy are a kind of watchdogs for the monarchs and make people aware of their actions. But, in a democracy, there is no role for nobility and they are less inclined to initiate a revolt against a democratic government; however, they can be harmful their as the act as the ancestors of the nobles.

It is one of the hallmarks of the democracy that people don’t stand unitedly under the one flag but they put their eyes upon other’s business. If it is not on the business, it is upon the man which is merely for the sake of business. Bacon praises Switzerland by saying that the people over there are united by not by the respect and religion but by the utility of their bonding.

In contradiction to England, a state under the monarchy, bacon praises the Low Countries where there is a democratic government at fullest. He mentions that unlike monarchs, these governments offer equality and enable the procedure to pay taxes which people enjoy.

No doubt that nobility brings dignity to the monarchs but it is at the cost of some power. Similarly, nobility brings spirit to the people but at the cost of wealth. Bacon demonstrates that the best kind of nobility is the one that is under the sovereign power as well as under the justice but above the common people. By availing the status like this, they are acting as a shield between the emperors and the common people and their disrespectful behavior. Before this disrespectful behavior of subjects is faced by the monarchs, nobilities are hit upon it.

Bacon, furthermore, says that there shouldn’t be too much nobility in one state, as it might lead to the poverty and inconvenience in the state. To maintain nobility is very expensive and by doing so some of the nobles might become poor, after which the wealth and honor are of no use.

In the second part of the essay, Bacon argues about the old nobility and compares it with the present time nobility. Just as it is lovely to sight the old, ancient building in the great structures, likewise it worth mentioning the nobility of the old time that has stood against the waves and weathers, and the ups and downs of the time. The Nobility of the present time is just for the sake of attaining power and attorney, however, the ancient nobility is the act of time.

When compared with the ancestors, the nobility of the present time is virtuous like their ancestors but less innocent. It is the natural fact that human comprises of both evil and good at the same time; however, it is good that remains and prevails while the evil dies with the person.

Bacon, after hitting the nobility of the present times hits them with the final argument that the nobility born doesn’t like to work but also envy those who work. For a noble person with such an attitude, it is hard to rise up and those who rise are the source of envy for them. However, it is in the immunity of the nobility to envy others due to their honor.

In the end, Bacon suggests that the kings that have capable nobility should use them for business purpose. And the people are bend to follow them blindly as if they are born to command.

Of Nobility Analysis:


Of Nobility is an argumentative essay by Francis Bacon in which he criticizes the present nobility with his harsh arguments.

Critical Appreciation:

Brevity, directness, wit, and to the point arguments are one of the qualities that Bacon’s essay contain. The systematic way of writing makes bacon’s essay to move from one point to another logically. Moreover, the subject matters he discusses in his writing style are all based on the real life and the reader found an epigrammatic wisdom in it.

In the essay, Of Nobility, Bacon harshly criticizes the nobility of the present time. He starts the essay in support of democracy where there is no use of nobility but where they are dangerous for the other’s business. Bacon time and again hits the nobility of his time with harsh arguments. He demonstrates that no matter, nobility is essential in the states where a monarchy is. They keep the check on the monarchs but these nobilities have lost their true honor and virtue because of their laziness. They are placed in the position where they just act as a buffer between the monarchs and the subjects and their insolences. No doubt they are essential elements of the monarchy as they add majesty to the monarch but the cost of power; likewise, they add spirit to the people but at the cost of their wealth.

Bacon argues that Low Countries are far better than our country as they have a government which ensures the equality among people and a system through which people pay the taxes happily. He mentioned Switzerland, a country from where her mother belongs, a state that has the best form of government. Moreover, he also mentions the hallmark in his society that people over there are distributed on the basis of races and honor, however, in Switzerland, people are united not by religion or respect but by the utility of their bonding. He wished to have such unity and bonding among his nation as well.

Moreover, Bacon compares the present time nobility with their ancestors that those were the people who did their job not for the sake of power but for the time. That is why they appear to as attractive and firm as the ancient buildings.

Bacon lived in an era where there was a restriction on freedom of expression. It appears that Bacon wrote this essay with the pen of Shakespeare, an essay full of wisdom and truth. Bacon supports the democratic form of government at the best and claims that it ensures peace and prosperity among the people.