Francesco-Maria Guazzo


Francesco-Maria Guazzo is a monk who was considered to be a leader on the study of witchcraft, demonology and lycanthropy.  No sufficient information was found on the record regarding his life; the only thing clear is that he was active during the late 16th century.  Montague Summers noted that he passed away in the year 1640’s.

A member of an organization of monk that is based on Milan, Guazzo was assigned to study on the superstitious belief on witches and their connection to the demon.  During the 16th century the Europe is so engulf on the idea of witches and Sabbats and other demonological activities.  It was in the year 1595 when Guazzo started his study about witches and their abilities.

During 1605 where witches trial is happening on Cleves, Guazzo was asked to aid them on their investigation about the alleged witch activity.  It involves a case of a witch hunter named Serene Duke John William.  The accused who was an old man at around the age of 90’s was forced to admit of bewitching the witch hunter.  He confessed that he laid a curse on the witch hunter.  He was sentenced to die by burning at a stake.  But this did not pursue, as the old man slit his throat while he was in the prison.  Some says that this act was done by the devil in order to spare the old man from burning at a stake.

Guazzo spent a favorable amount of time in writing the Handbook of the witches.  In his book he states that the witches are capable of shape shifting in a form of a wolf or lycanthropy, but only as an illusion to deceive the human minds.  He states:

“No one can doubt but that all the arts and metamorphosesby which witches change men into beasts aredeceptive illusions and opposed to all nature. I add thatanyone who holds the contrary opinion is in danger ofAnathema; and in this I am supported by the opinion of S.Augustine, and also by logical reasoning. For a humansoul cannot inform the body of a beast . . .For the devil . . . deceives our senses in various ways.Sometimes he substitutes another body, while the witchesthemselves are absent or hidden somewhere in a secretplace, and himself assumes the body of a wolf formedfrom the air and wrapped around him, and does thoseactions which men think are done by the wretched absentwitch who is asleep.Sometimes, in accordance with his pact, he surrounds awitch with an aerial effigy of a beast, each part of whichfits onto the correspondent part of the witch’s body, headto head, mouth to mouth, belly to belly, foot to foot, andarm to arm; but this only happens when they use certainointments and words . . . 

Guazzo’s Compendium is considered as his best work.  It has been used as a basis on witch trial that happened during the medieval period.

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