1646 Joan Blaeu Antique Map of Central and NE Africa - Land of Prestor John

Cartographer : Joan Blaeu

  • Title : Aethiopia Superior vel interior vulgo Abissinorum sive Presbiteri Joannnis Imperium...
  • Ref #:  93510
  • Size: 23in x 18in (585mm x 475mm)
  • Date : 1646
  • Condition: (A+) Fine Condition

This original hand coloured copper-plate engraved antique map of Central and NE Africa - the mythical land of Emperor Prestor John - was published in the 1645 Latin Edition of edition of Joan Blaeus Atlas Novus.

General Definitions:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color : - off white
Age of map color: - Original
Colors used: - Blue, pink, red, green, yellow
General color appearance: - Authentic
Paper size: - 23in x 18in (585mm x 475mm)
Plate size: - 19 1/2in x 15 1/4in (495mm x 390mm)
Margins: - Min 1in (25mm)

Margins: - None
Plate area: - None
Verso: - None

Rumours of the mythical Emperor Prestor John began in Europe around 1150AD, that somewhere in Asia there was a powerful Christian Emperor named Presbyter Johannes (with the court title of Gurkhan), who had founded the kingdom of Kara Khitai. He had broken the power of the Musselman in his own domain after a fierce and bloody fight. The mysterious Priest-King became a symbol of hope in the Christian world beset by Mongol hordes. Pope Alexander III resolved to make contact with Presbyter John, and his first step was to address a letter to him (dated 27th September 1177). The Pope\'s physician was dispatched to deliver the letter in person. He never returned. Pope Innocent IV was even more determined than his predecessor, and decided to convert the Barbarians instead of conquer them. Dominican and Franciscan missionaries as well as civil ambassadors of peace plodded back and forth between the Pope, the King of France and the Mogul Khan. These travelers soon learned that His Highness Presbyter Johannes and the Christian kingdom in deepest Asia were popular myths. But the popular fancy was not easily dispelled, and instead of allowing the bubble to be punctured, the people merely transferred the kingdom of Presbyter John to Africa - especially Abyssinia. No-one knew very much about Abyssinia. A few die hards like John de Plano Carpini and Marco Polo persisted in the belief that Presbyter John still reigned in his splendor deep in the heart of the Orient. On the larger map in Higdens Polychronicon the empire of Presbyter John was located in the lower Scythia within the limits of Europe, but the map of Marino Sanuto it was placed in further India. It was moved again to Central Asia and ended up in Abyssinia. The legend persisted, however, and four hundred years after Pope Alexander III wrote his letter to Presbyter Johannes, Abraham Ortelius, a Dutch map publisher issued a separate map titled Presbyteri Johannis Siv Abissinorum Iperii Descripto. (Ref: M&B, Tooley; Norwich)