Difference between revisions of "Prester John"

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What is very definite is a letter, the Letter of Prester John, believed to be a forgery, which was supposedly written to the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus (1143-1180) by Prester John, the King of India. The letter later came, copied, to the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. This letter, appearing around 1165, which recounted many marvels of richness and magic, captured the imagination of Europeans and circulated in ever more embellished form for centuries and shortly after the invention of printing in printed form, being still current in the popular culture during the period of European exploration. <br>
 
What is very definite is a letter, the Letter of Prester John, believed to be a forgery, which was supposedly written to the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus (1143-1180) by Prester John, the King of India. The letter later came, copied, to the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. This letter, appearing around 1165, which recounted many marvels of richness and magic, captured the imagination of Europeans and circulated in ever more embellished form for centuries and shortly after the invention of printing in printed form, being still current in the popular culture during the period of European exploration. <br>
The letter included details (about St.Thomas, about peppers, and about elephants) which indicate that the writer (whoever he was) placed Prester John in [[India]], possibly toward the eastern coast. Its details also bore close resemblances to fictional accounts of the life of '''Alexander the Great''' in India, mentioning things such as cannibals, trivers flowing from Paradise/Eden, pygmies and men without heads, which appear in both sources. <br>
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The letter included details (about St.Thomas, about peppers, and about elephants) which indicate that the writer (whoever he was) placed Prester John in [[India]], possibly toward the eastern coast. Its details also bore close resemblances to fictional accounts of the life of '''Alexander the Great''' in India, mentioning things such as cannibals, trivers flowing from Paradise/Eden, pygmies and men without heads, which appear in both sources (see [http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~barilm/presjohn.html this article] for further details). <br>
 
It also offered an Emperor with a house-steward who was a patriarch and a king, a cup-bearer who was an archbishop and a king, and a chamberlain who was a bishop and a king. <br>
 
It also offered an Emperor with a house-steward who was a patriarch and a king, a cup-bearer who was an archbishop and a king, and a chamberlain who was a bishop and a king. <br>
 
During the Second Crusade there was also hope that Prester John would come to the aid of the holy cities and capture back Palestine from the Muslims.
 
During the Second Crusade there was also hope that Prester John would come to the aid of the holy cities and capture back Palestine from the Muslims.
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Cartographers located the land of Prester John, variously, in Tibet (c.1507), in Africa (''Carta Marina'' 1516) and then specifically in Abyssinia. Leutholf (1681) finally dismissed this as erroneous, but by then the legend had stimulated exploration and missionary activity throughout NE Africa, central Asia and [[China]].
 
Cartographers located the land of Prester John, variously, in Tibet (c.1507), in Africa (''Carta Marina'' 1516) and then specifically in Abyssinia. Leutholf (1681) finally dismissed this as erroneous, but by then the legend had stimulated exploration and missionary activity throughout NE Africa, central Asia and [[China]].
   
"Sir John Mandeville", writing c.1366, offers an extended and fanciful account of Prester John (although he never states he has visited the country in question). Thus he says that the rocks of the sea-bed drew iron to them, disabling and iron-nailed ship which approached. Prester John's land held 72 proivinces, each ruled by a king. Seven kings served him directly at a time, on a rota basis, together with 72 dukes and 360 earls. His capital was at Susa; his throne there stood upon seven tiers, each of a precious stone: onyx, crystal, jasper green, amethyst, sardine (''possibly sardonyx''), carnelian and chrysolite. He also had a plaace at Nysa. He had 3 archbishops and 20 bishops at his court every day, and his equivalent of the pope was the patriarch of St.Thomas [Which would have been consonant with the legend that St.Thomas had journeyed to India and died there. [[Alfred the Great]], in 833, sent 2 priests with gifts to St.Thomas' shrine].
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"Sir John Mandeville", writing c.1366, offers an extended and fanciful account of Prester John (although he never states he has visited the country in question). Thus he says that the rocks of the sea-bed drew iron to them, disabling any iron-nailed ship which approached. Prester John's land held 72 proivinces, each ruled by a king. Seven kings served him directly at a time, on a rota basis, together with 72 dukes and 360 earls. His capital was at Susa; his throne there stood upon seven tiers, each of a precious stone: onyx, crystal, jasper green, amethyst, sardine (''possibly sardonyx''), carnelian and chrysolite. He also had a plaace at Nysa. He had 3 archbishops and 20 bishops at his court every day, and his equivalent of the pope was the patriarch of St.Thomas [Which would have been consonant with the legend that St.Thomas had journeyed to India and died there. [[Alfred the Great]], in 833, sent 2 priests with gifts to St.Thomas' shrine].

Revision as of 22:30, 20 October 2004