Jacob Sprenger (also James, Jakob, Jacobus, 1436/1438 – 6 December 1495) was a Dominican Friar. He was born in Rheinfelden, Further Austria.
With the Dominicans
He was admitted as a novice in the Dominican house of Rheinfelden in 1452. He became a zealous reformer within the Order. He founded an association of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary in Strasbourg in 1474. He became a Master of Theology and then in 1480 Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Cologne.
His lecture room was thronged and the following year he was appointed Inquisitor for the Provinces of Mainz, Trier and Cologne. His activities in this post demanded constant travelling through the very extensive district.
Association with the Malleus Maleficarum
He was named in the 1484 papal bull Summis desiderantes of Pope Innocent VIII. Popular opinion makes Sprenger the co-author of the Malleus Maleficarum. All editions after 1519 named him as Heinrich Kramer's collaborator.
It has been claimed that Sprenger was not interested in witches and that he cannot be linked to any witch trial. His personal relationship to Kramer was acrimonious and Sprenger used his powerful position whenever he could to make Kramer’s life and work as difficult as possible. Scholars now believe that he became associated with the Malleus Maleficarum largely as a result of Kramer's wish to lend his book as much official authority as possible.
Sprenger died suddenly in 1495 in Strasbourg.