Episode #57 – Was There a Real Prester John?

In the 10th century a letter started circulating that had been allegedly written to the Byzantine Emperor by a mysterious eastern King. The King identified himself as Prester John and claimed that he was marching to relieve the crusaders in the holy land. He also claimed that his kingdom was filled with wonders including a fountain of youth, eagles that deliver magical gems, and a menagerie of monsters. Was Prester John an elaborate hoax or was there a real figure who inspired the story? Tune in and find out how Jesus’ twin brother, lady ogres, and a very confused Ethiopian King all play a role in the story.

Works Cited

The Letter of Prester John, www.maryjones.us/ctexts/presterjohn.html.

The Acts of Thomas, www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/actsthomas.html.

Baring-Gould, S. Curious Myths of the Middle Ages. Longmans, Green and Co, 1892.

Hamilton, Bernard, and C. F. Beckingham. Prester John: the Mongols and the Ten Lost Tribes. Variorum, 1996.

Mandeville, Jean de, and Charles William Reuben Dutton Moseley. The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. Penguin Books. Penguin Classics, 2005.

Polo, Marco, and Henry Yule. The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian: Concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the East. Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Salvadore, Matteo. The African Prester John and the Birth of Ethiopian-European Relations, 1402-1555. Routledge, 2017.

Silverberg, Robert. The Realm of Prester John: with a New Afterword. Phoenix Press, 2001.