Prester John

Preter John

A legendary monarch whose realm was thought to have been in Asia or Africa.

He is first mentioned by the chronicler Otto of Freising who says he attacked Ecbatana and defeated the Medes and Persians, whose capital it was. A spurious letter of Prester John, describing the wonders of his kingdom, appeared in Europe (perhaps in 1185) and became vastly popular. Marco Polo identified him with an Asiatic ruler, but Jordanus de Sévérac (fourteenth century) placed him in Ethiopia.

He is mentioned in a number of Arthurian tales. In Wolfram, he was the son of Feirefiz and Repanse and therefore a nephew of Percivale and a cousin of Arthur.

In the Dutch Lancelot he is the son of Percivale. In Tom a'Lincoln he was the father of Anglitora, with whom Arthur's son, Tom a'Lincoln, eloped.