Jakob Sprenger (Inquisitor)

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Malleus maleficarum , 1669

Jakob Sprenger (* 1435 in Rheinfelden , † December 6, 1495 in Strasbourg ) was a scholar and writer of the Dominican Order . His co-authorship at Hexenhammer and thus his role as a witch theorist is controversial in research.


Born in Rheinfelden in 1435, he joined the Dominican Order of Basel at the age of seventeen. From 1472 to 1488 he was prior of the Cologne Convention and was appointed dean of the theological faculty there in 1480 . From 1481 he was inquisitor in the archbishopric of Mainz, Trier and Cologne, from December 1484 also in the archbishopric of Salzburg and Bremen. In 1474 he founded the first documented and in the following years largest German Rosary Brotherhood in Cologne, which even Emperor Friedrich III. and his son Maximilian I belonged. He died in Strasbourg on December 6, 1495.

Controversial involvement in Hexenhammer

The question of whether Sprenger was a co-author of the Hexenhammer of his fellow brother Heinrich Kramer is highly controversial in research . According to a research hypothesis, Kramer named Sprenger as a co-author to give the work more authority. In reality, however, Sprenger was not involved. This hypothesis is strongly supported by some historians and strongly rejected by others. The new editor of The Witch Hammer, Christopher Mackay , has made a number of arguments in favor of Sprenger's involvement. Kramer was the driving force, but Sprenger probably contributed the theoretical material in the first part of the work.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Christopher S. Mackay (ed.): Henricus Institoris, OP and Jacobus Sprenger, OP: Malleus maleficarum. Volume 1, Cambridge 2006, pp. 103-121.