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Biography of Thomas Hobbes

Portrait of Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes was a seventeenth century philosopher.

When and Where was he Born?

5th April 1588, Westport, Wiltshire, England.

Family Background:

Thomas Hobbes was the son of the Vicar of Charlton and Westport who disappeared after a fight at his church door, leaving the care of his three children to his brother.

Education:

Westport School and a private school. Magdalen Hall, Oxford.

Timeline of Thomas Hobbes:

1608: Hobbes completed his degree at Oxford.

Hobbes was invited to Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire by the Cavendishes in 1608 (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1610: Thomas Hobbes tours Europe and studies the Greek and Latin authors.

1628: He translates Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War from the Greek. He makes friends with thinkers such as Sir Francis Bacon and writers such as Ben Jonson.

1628: His recently widowed employer the Countess of Cavendish dismisses him but he soon finds work as a tutor to the son of Sir Gervase Clifton.

1629: He begins thinking of philosophy and goes on a second tour of the continent.

1631: Hr goes back to work as a tutor for the Cavendish family.

1634: He embarks on his third tour to the continent.

1636: He visits Florence.

1637: He now considers himself a philosopher and scholar and returns to England.

1640: The Long Parliament gives way to the Short Parliament and Hobbes flees to Paris as his writings are not in favour.

1641: Thomas Hobbes’s Correspondence with Renee Descartes terminates as the two have a disagreement.

1642: Start of the English Civil War. In later years many Royalists fled to Paris and became known to Hobbes.

1647: He is taken on as a mathematical instructor to the young Charles, Prince of Wales however he is taken ill and laid low for six months.

1648: Charles goes to Holland.

1649: Execution of King Charles the First on 30th January.

1651: Thomas Hobbes becomes reviled by the English Royalists and the French Catholics over the secularism shown in his new book “Leviathan” and he seeks protection from the English Puritan State. He returns to London to live a private life in Fetter Lane.

1660: Return of the Monarchy to England under King Charles Second, Hobbes’s former pupil. Despite it being fashionable to decry “Hobbism” the King takes pity on him and gives him a pension of £100.

1665: The Great Plague hits London.

1666: The Great Fire of London. Parliament bring in a Bill against atheism and profaneness and suppresses books on atheism such as “Leviathan”. Worried that he will be declared a heretic he burns some of his papers. In the end it only meant that Hobbes could no longer publish any books on philosophy. His other works, chiefly on historical subjects and translations from the Greek were published after his death.

When and Where did he Die?

4th December 1679, Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, England of a bladder disorder which caused a stroke.

Age at Death:

90.

The Monument, London
The Monument to the Great Fire of London

Written Works:

1629: “The Peloponnesian War of Thucydides” (Translation).
1637: “The Art of Rhetoric”. (Translation of Aristotle).
1642: “Elementa Philosophica De Cive”.
1650: “De Corporo Politico, or the Elements of Law, Moral and Politic”. “Human Nature”.
1651: “Epistle to Davenant on Gondibert”. “Leviathan”.
1654: “Of Liberty and Necessity”.
1674: “Odyssey” (Translation).
1681: “Behemoth”.

Marriage:

Never married.

Site of Grave:

St. John the Baptist Church, Ault Hucknall, Derbyshire, England.

Places of Interest:

DERBYSHIRE:

Lived and worked at Hardwick Hall.

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