Six Degrees of Francis Bacon Shows Links Between Your Favorite Historical Figures

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon, Youtube
Six Degrees of Francis Bacon, Youtube / Six Degrees of Francis Bacon, Youtube

Have you ever wondered who knew whom in Early Modern Britain? If so, Six Degrees of Francis Bacon is the ultimate resource for you.

Inspired by the popular movie trivia game that connects movie stars to Kevin Bacon, the Six Degrees of Francis Bacon website maps out the social connections between British historical figures from the 16th through 18th centuries. Ever wanted to know who Isaac Newton liked to hang out with? What about Oliver Cromwell, King Charles I, or William Shakespeare? Six Degrees of Francis Bacon will tell you—in addition to showing you all of philosopher Francis Bacon’s closest connections, of course. 

Whether you’re a student, a scholar, or a history lover, the new website is a phenomenal resource. Recently launched, and still in Beta, the database already includes information about more than 13,000 people—which adds up to over 200,000 relationships.

In his introduction to the site, historian Chris Warren explains that, as a graduate student, he would sketch out the social webs of historical figures by hand—but there was always a limit to the number of connections he could trace. Now, the internet has allowed him to connect historical figures on an unprecedented scale by crowdsourcing the entire project—and as more historians and history buffs contribute to the website, the social world of Early Modern Britain will come more and more into focus.

“Are you researching Anne Boleyn to find out if she knew Thomas More, author of Utopia? Now, you can see that in an instant,” Warren explained in a statement. “But not only that, you can see all of the people they knew, thus giving you new ways to consider communities, factions, influences, and sources. It’s critical for scholars because even experts have a hard time keeping so many relations in their heads. Meanwhile, newcomers have nearly instantaneous access to contextual information that’s often really difficult to access.”

[h/t: Smithsonian]