Mythology and Diplomacy in the Age of Exploration


This book examines the relationship between medieval European mythologies of the non-Western world and the initial Portuguese and Spanish voyages of expansion and exploration to Africa, Asia and the Americas. From encounters with the Mongols and successor states, to the European contacts with Ethiopia, India and the Americas, as well as the concomitant Jewish notion of the Ten Lost Tribes, the volume views the Western search for distant, crusading allies through the lens of stories such as the apostolate of Saint Thomas and the stories surrounding the supposed priest-king Prester John. In doing so, Knobler weaves a broad history of early modern Iberian imperial expansion within the context of a history of cosmologies and mythologies.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Adam Knobler, Ph.D. (1990) University of Cambridge, is apl. Professor of the History of World Religions at the Ruhr University Bochum. He has published a number of articles on medieval and early modern and non-western encounters.
"With a particular focus on Christian Europeans, Knobler offers a brief history of Europeans’ imagination and research about non-European peoples, as well as their diplomatic contact with a variety of these ‘others.’ Mythology and Diplomacy in the Age of Exploration gives a highly readable overview of the political fallout from the myths of Prester John and Saint Thomas. The volume also provides a panoramic view of the numerous, complex themes gathered into particular myths in medieval and early modern Europeans’ understanding of the ‘other.’
- Marco Voldpato, in: Cromohs (Cyber Review of Modern Historiography), Vol. 21 (2017-2018), pp. 169-172 [DOI:]

“Knobler offers an important study of early modern expansions as stemming from medieval myths and diplomatic relations in the context of crusading ideals and processes.”
- Desiree Arbo, in: The Mariner's Mirror, 104:1 (2018), pp. 98-100 [DOI: 10.1080/00253359.2018.1415838]

"In Summe gelingt es Adam Knobler zwar, einen lesenswerten Beitrag zu den Wurzeln der europäischen Expansion vorzulegen". Andreas Obenau, in Historische Zeitschrift, 308 (2019).
General Editor’s Foreword ... ix
Acknowledgements ... xii

Introduction ... 1

1 Prester John (1122–1222) ... 5
2 Allies and Mythologies in Central Asia (1240–1405) ... 9
3 Contacts with Ethiopia – Prester John Found (to 1559) ... 30
4 Saint Thomas in India and the Americas (to c. 1600) ... 57
5 Columbus’ Plans for the New World and the Spanish Conversion of the Americas (1492–c. 1560) ... 70
6 “Christianized” Muslims in the Middle East (1400–1635) ... 80
7 Jews and the Search for the Ten Lost Tribes ... 96

Conclusions ... 105

All interested in the history of European expansion, crusading and medieval and early modern geography.
  • Collapse
  • Expand