How to use Prester in a sentence
The king of Portugal next despatched Bartolomeu Diaz in 1486 to continue discoveries southwards; while, in the following year, he sent Pedro de Covilhao and Affonso de Payva to discover the country of Prester John.
His African experiences suggested The African Colony (1903), A Lodge in the Wilderness (1906), and Prester John (1910).
This last fact in particular caused western Europe to dream of an alliance with the great khan "Prester John," who should aid in the reconquest of Jerusalem and the final conversion to Christianity of the whole continent of Asia.
The legend of Prester John is based on the idea of the conversion of a Mongol tribe, the Karith, whose chieftain Ung Khan at baptism received the title Malek Juchana (King John).
The history of Prester John no doubt originally gathered round some nucleus of fact, though what that was is extremely difficult to determine.Advertisement
Before Prester John appears upon the scene we find the way prepared for his appearance by a kindred fable, which entwined itself with the legends about him.
Nearly a quarter of a century later Prester John appears upon the scene, in the character of a Christian conqueror and potentate who combined the characters of priest and king, and ruled over vast dominions in the Far East.
The first mention of Prester John occurs in the chronicle of Otto, bishop of Freisingen.
Whatever impression was made by this report, or by other rumours of the event on which it was founded, was far exceeded, about 1165, by the circulation of a letter purporting to be addressed by Prester John to the emperor Manuel.
How great was the popularity and diffusion of this letter may be judged in some degree from the fact that Zarncke in his treatise on Prester John gives a list of close on 100 MSS.Advertisement
There is no express mention of the title "Prester John" in what seem the more genuine copies of this letter..
We do not know how far the imaginations about Prester John retained their vitality in 1221, forty-four years after the letter of Pope Alexander, for we know of no mention of Prester John in the interval.
The name ascribed to the conqueror was David, and some called him the son or the grandson of Prester John of India.
In this event - the defeat of Sanjar, whose brother's son, Mas'ud, reigned over western Persia - occurring four years before the story of the Eastern conqueror was told at Rome to Bishop Otto, we seem to have the destruction of the Samiardi fratres or Sanjar brothers, which was the germ of the story of Prester John.
The failure in the history of the Gur Khan to meet all points in the story of the bishop of Gabala led Professor Bruun of Odessa to bring forward another candidate for identity with the original Prester John, in the person of the Georgian prince John Orbelian, the "sbasalar," or generalissimo under several kings of Georgia in that age.Advertisement
He shows instances, in documents of the 15th century, of the association of Prester John with the Caucasus.
When the Mongol conquests threw Asia open to Frank travellers in the middle of the 13th century their minds were full of Prester John; they sought in vain for an adequate representative, nor was it in the nature of things that they should not find some representative.
But the persistent demand produced a supply; and the honour of identification with Prester John, after hovering over one head and another, settled for a long time upon that of the king of the Nestorian tribe of Kerait, famous in the histories of Jenghiz under the name of Ung or Awang Khan.
In Carpini's (1248) single mention of Prester John as the king of the Christians of India the Greater, who defeats the Tatars by an elaborate stratagem, Oppert recognizes Jalaluddin of Kharezm and his brief success over the Mongols in Afghanistan.
Unc Khan reappears in Marco Polo, who tells much about him as "a great prince, the same that we call Prester John, him in fact about whose great dominion all the world talks."Advertisement
In the narrative of Marco Polo "Unc Can," alias Prester John, is the liege lord of the Tatars, to whom they paid tribute until Jenghiz arose.
We find Prester John in one more phase before he vanishes from Asiatic history, real or mythical.
Marco Polo in the latter part of the 13th century, and Friar John of Montecorvino, afterwards archbishop of Cambaluc, in the beginning of the 14th, speak of the descendants of Prester John as holding territory under the great khan in a locality which can be identified with the plain of KukuKhotan, north of the great bend of the Yellow river and about 280 m.
The prince reigning in the time of these two writers was named King George, and was the "6th in descent from Prester John," i.e.
Friar Odoric, about 1326, visited the country still ruled by the prince whom he calls Prester John; "but," he says, "as regards him, not one-hundredth part is true that is told of him."Advertisement
With this mention Prester John ceases to have any pretension to historical existence in Asia (for we need not turn aside to Mandeville's fabulous revival of old stories or to the barefaced fictions of his contemporary, John of Hese, which bring in the old tales of the miraculous body of St Thomas), and his connexion with that quarter of the world gradually died out of the memory of Europe.(fn 3) When next we begin to hear his name it is as an African, not as an Asiatic prince; and the personage so styled is in fact the Christian king of Abyssinia.
From the 14th century onwards Prester John had found his seat in Abyssinia.
He sought to effect a junction with the half-fabulous Christian Empire of " Prester John " by way of the " Western Nile," i.e.
Pedro de Covilham had reached Abyssinia as early as 1490; in 1520 a Portuguese embassy arrived at the court of " Prester John," and in 1541 a military force was sent to aid him in repelling a Mahommedan invasion.
Kara Khitai Empire in the early part of the 13th century (the legendary Prester John) was a member of a Christian tribe called Naiman, which is one of the four chief tribal divisions mentioned by Ney Elias.Advertisement
A belief had long prevailed in Europe of the existence of a Christian kingdom in the far east, whose monarch was known as Prester John, and various anity.
Among others who had engaged in this search was Pedro de Covilham, who arrived in Abyssinia in 1490, and, believing that he had at length reached the far-famed kingdom, presented geese g g P to the negus, or emperor of the country, a letter from his master the king of Portugal, addressed to Prester John.
Less directly, other sides of his activity may be considered as fulfilled by the Portuguese penetration of inland Africa, especially of Abyssinia, the land of the "Prester John" for whom Dom Henry sought, and even by the finding of a western route to Asia through the discoveries of Columbus, Balboa and Magellan.
Andrew's report to his sovereign, whom he rejoined in 1251 at Caesarea in Palestine, appears to have been a mixture of history and fable; the latter affects his narrative of the Mongols' rise to greatness, and the struggles of their leader, evidently Jenghiz Khan, with Prester John; it is still more evident in the position assigned to the Tatar homeland, close to the prison of Gog and Magog.
Returning overland across Asia, through the Land of Prester John and through Casan, the adventurous traveller seems to have entered Tibet, and even perhaps to have visited Lhasa.Advertisement
More than twenty years later, when the first book on Abyssinia was composed - that of Alvarez - the title designating the king of Abyssinia is "Prester John," or simply "the Preste."