Among others who had engaged in this search was Pedro de Covilham, who arrived in Abyssinia in 1490, and, believing that he had at length reached the far-famed kingdom, presented geese g g P to the negus, or emperor of the country, a letter from his master the king of Portugal, addressed to Prester John.
When the Mongol conquests threw Asia open to Frank travellers in the middle of the 13th century their minds were full of Prester John; they sought in vain for an adequate representative, nor was it in the nature of things that they should not find some representative.
The legend of Prester John is based on the idea of the conversion of a Mongol tribe, the Karith, whose chieftain Ung Khan at baptism received the title Malek Juchana (King John).
We do not know how far the imaginations about Prester John retained their vitality in 1221, forty-four years after the letter of Pope Alexander, for we know of no mention of Prester John in the interval.
His African experiences suggested The African Colony (1903), A Lodge in the Wilderness (1906), and Prester John (1910).
In Carpini's (1248) single mention of Prester John as the king of the Christians of India the Greater, who defeats the Tatars by an elaborate stratagem, Oppert recognizes Jalaluddin of Kharezm and his brief success over the Mongols in Afghanistan.
Returning overland across Asia, through the Land of Prester John and through Casan, the adventurous traveller seems to have entered Tibet, and even perhaps to have visited Lhasa.
How great was the popularity and diffusion of this letter may be judged in some degree from the fact that Zarncke in his treatise on Prester John gives a list of close on 100 MSS.
Before Prester John appears upon the scene we find the way prepared for his appearance by a kindred fable, which entwined itself with the legends about him.
The king of Portugal next despatched Bartolomeu Diaz in 1486 to continue discoveries southwards; while, in the following year, he sent Pedro de Covilhao and Affonso de Payva to discover the country of Prester John.