Prester John Revisited

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Source: Prester John Revisited

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Prester John Revisited

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I returned to Prester John continuing to collect materials and facts. I read a very informative doctoral dissertation of M.E.Brook. “Prester John: A Reexamination and Compendium of the Mythical Figure Who Helped Spark European Expansion”. I learned that the background of the legend covers the period long before its first appearance in 1145 and the spread lasted over 600 years till the end of the 17th century.

Then I thought: what about St. Thomas the apostle? In 1122 a weird guest visited Rome. He was presented to the Pope as John, the patriarch of India, and told fascinating stories about the cult of St. Thomas in this country. The legend had its believers and nonbelievers, but its origin leads to Edessa and local Syriac Christian community. It might be that myths and marvels of the cult of St.Thomas were mixed with another legend about a bellicose oriental Christian emperor who is frenzied to liberate Jerusalem.

Jerusalem as the center of the world

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Many medieval educated people would agree with this statement. I am currently editing a chapter from my second manuscript devoted to this topic. I cite influential mappae mundi like the Hereford and Ebstorf maps. I appeal to popular writers such as Sir John Mandeville. I mention experienced sailors, for example Christopher Columbus who dreamed about the final Crusade to reconquest the Holy City. I am hopeful that in the new form the chapter will be a valuable addition to my manuscript.

Prester John (1)

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I have started a new research based on medieval legends which show the contacts between the West and the East. A mythical emperor of the Far East, Prester John played a major role in the era of the expansion of Europe. I am only collecting material and am not sure what I can make out of it. As usual, I am interested in human aspect rather than in the timeline. My manuscript tells the history of ideas. I have found a wonderful thesis by M.Brooks. “Prester John”. A vast source of info and a desire to argue! I warmly recommend it to anybody who would like to know the topic.