Prester John

(114 words)
  • Editors

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

Prester John, also referred to as a Presbyter, was the subject of a legend popular in Europe throughout the medieval period and Renaissance. It envisaged a godly king who was said to be a descendant of one of the Three Magi. He represented the possibility of a universal Christendom, as he was thought to rule over a king in the East - variously in India, central Asia or Ethiopia - among Muslims and other religious groups. Myths of this virtuous ruler became associated with other longstanding idyllic places: some retellings saw his kingdom as the site of the Gates of Alexander, the Fountain of Youth or even the Earthly Paradise, the Garden of Eden.

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Editors. "Prester John". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 31 July 2012
[, accessed 28 September 2016.]