Jacob van Hoogstraaten

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Jacob van Hoogstraten[1] (c.1460 – 24 January 1527) was a Flemish Dominican theologian and controversialist.

Education, professor[edit]

Van Hoogstraten was born in Hoogstraeten, Belgium. He studied the classics and theology with the Dominicans at Louvain, and in 1485 was among the first in the history of that institution to receive the degree of Master of Arts. He there entered the order, and after his ordination to the priesthood in 1496, he matriculated in the University of Cologne to continue his theological studies. The general chapter held in 1498 at Ferrara appointed him professor of theology in the Dominican college of Cologne. In 1500 he was elected prior of the convent in Antwerp, and on the expiration of his term of office returned to Cologne, where, in February, 1504, he received the degree of Doctor of Theology. At the general chapter of Pavia in 1507 he was made regent of studies, and thereby became professor of theology in the university. His vast theological attainments and his natural ability to impart knowledge made him an exceptionally successful teacher.

As controversialist, Inquisitor[edit]

Hoogstraten began his controversial career by publishing in defence of the mendicant orders, who had been accused of abusing their privileges, his Defensorium fratrum mendicantium contra curatos illos qui privilegia fratrum injuste impugnat (Cologne, 1507). In the following year he published several works against the eminent Italian jurist, Pietro Tomasi of Ravenna, who was then lecturing in the German universities. During his controversy with the Italian jurist he was elected prior of the convent of Cologne, and thus became inquisitor general of the archbishoprics of Cologne, Mainz, and Trier.

Opposition to Judaism and Lutheranism[edit]

He played his principal role, however, in the controversy with Johann Reuchlin on the confiscation of Jewish books, in the course of which Reuchlin's opponents were satirized in the famous Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum. While he took no active part in the earlier stages of the controversy, his sympathies, nevertheless, as is evidenced by his relations with the converted Jew, Johann Pfefferkorn, were with Reuchlin's opponents. Influenced no doubt, to some extent by the unfavourable attitude of the universities towards the Jewish books, Hoogstraten on 15 September 1513, in his capacity as inquisitor, summoned Reuchlin to appear within six days before the ecclesiastical court of Mainz to answer to the charges of favouring the Jews and their anti-Christian literature. The latter appealed to Rome; whereupon Pope Leo X authorized the Bishop of Speyer to decide the matter. Meanwhile, Hoogstraten had Reuchlin's Augenspiegel, a previously published retort to Pfefferkorn's Handspiegel, publicly burned at Cologne. On 29 March 1514, the Bishop of Speyer announced that the Augenspiegel contained nothing injurious to the Catholic Faith, pronounced judgment in favour of Reuchlin, and condemned Hoogstraten to pay the expenses consequent upon the process. The latter appealed to Rome, but the pope postponed the trial indefinitely. At the instance of Franz von Sickingen and others, the Dominicans deprived Hoogstraten of the office of prior and inquisitor, but in January, 1520, the pope annulled the decision of the Bishop of Speyer, condemned the Augenspiegel, and reinstated Hoogstraten.

Hoogstraten was the initial inquisitor who in 1523 sentenced to death Johann Esch and Heinrich Voes, the first Lutherans to be martyred by the Roman Catholic Church.

Hoogstraten himself died in Cologne, in his seventies.

See also[edit]


Among the other works of Hoogstraten besides those already mentioned, the following are the more important:

  • Defensio scholastica principum Alemanniæ in eo, quod sceleratos detinent insepultos in ligno contra P. Ravennatem (Cologne, 1508);
  • Justificatorium principum Alemanniæ, dissolvens rationes Petri Ravennatis, quibus Principum judicia carpsit (Cologne, 1508);
  • Tractatus de cadaveribus maleficorum morte punitorum (Cologne, 1508);
  • Tractatus magistralis, declarans quam graviter peccent quærentes auxilium a maleficis (Cologne, 1510);
  • Apologia Fr. Jacobi Hoogstraeten (Cologne, 1518);
  • Apologia altera (Cologne, 1519);
  • Destructio cabbalæ (Cologne, 1519);
  • Margarita moralis philosophiæ in duodecim redacta libros (Cologne, 1521).


  1. ^ also Hochstraten, Hoogstratten