Beyond that again is the kingdom of Prester John
and of the great Cham.
What mind, that is not wholly barbarous and uncultured, can find pleasure in reading of how a great tower full of knights sails away across the sea like a ship with a fair wind, and will be to-night in Lombardy and to-morrow morning in the land of Prester John
of the Indies, or some other that Ptolemy never described nor Marco Polo saw?
Its tales of the Ethiopian Prester John
, of diamonds that by proper care can be made to grow, of trees whose fruit is an odd sort of lambs, and a hundred other equally remarkable phenomena, are narrated with skilful verisimilitude and still strongly hold the reader's interest, even if they no longer command belief.
I have it from my husband, who is a cinquantenier**, at the Parloir-aux Bourgeois, and who was this morning comparing the Flemish ambassadors with those of Prester John
and the Emperor of Trebizond, who came from Mesopotamia to Paris, under the last king, and who wore rings in their ears.
Beyond reaffirming Henry's importance, Russell's main goal is to place Henry back in his medieval context, emphasizing his interest in astrology, theology, chivalry, the Reconquest, Prester John
, and especially crusading.
Like many medieval Europeans, Henry was compelled by the hope of finding the Christian Kingdom of Prester John
, supposedly located `somewhere in the East'.
The old texts glittered with gold leaf and painted swans, the worn parchment still bright with the promise of good news in the City of Ladies or the Kingdom of Prester John
, and most of the objects in the display--lovingly illuminated Bibles once possessed by a duke of Mantua or a princess in Bruges, an engraving of Albrecht Durer's, the original copy of Voltaire's Candide--were as rare and strange as the reports, from the medieval lands of Cockaigne, of mountains of grated cheese and roasted birds falling from the sky like rain.
In the 15th century, the European Crusaders viewed Abyssinia, as Ethiopia was then called, as the mysterious kingdom of the legendary Prester John
, a Chrisitian king who was a potential ally against Islam.
We have as well the medieval Pope Joan, Gog and Magog, the sleeping Barbarossa, victorious Arminius who vanquished the Roman legions, Prester John
and William Tell.
When Buchan's widow selected passages after his death for an anthology, however, only one of the fictional narrators in the novels was allowed a place in the section headed 'autobiography': not the Scots-Rhodesian Richard Hannay, nor the Fife-born highveld trader in Prester John
, nor the various other heroic lads o' pairts, but Sir Edward Leithen -- Buchan as he might have been had he stayed at the English Bar.
Having freed Prester John
from a flock of harpies, Astolpho journeyed to the rim of the moon and there saw stored all the things lost on earth.
Jubber found a letter written in 1177 by Pope Alexander III to the priest-king of the Indies, Prester John