Prester John, legendary Christian priest and monarch of a vast, wealthy empire in Asia or in Africa. The legend first appeared in the latter part of the 12th cent. and persisted for several centuries. At first the utopian realm of this Christian king was supposed to be in Asia, but later it was more generally placed in Africa. Letters supposed to have been written by him and about him were widely circulated in Western Europe.
See studies by V. Slessarev (1959) and R. Silverberg (1972).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.