(Jordanus, The Mirabilia, 1329-1338?)

 

  1. Of India Tertia I will say this, that I have not indeed seen its many marvels, not having been there, but have heard them from trustworthy persons. For example, there be Dragons in the greatest abundance, which carry on their heads the lustrous stones which be called carbuncles. These animals have their lying–place upon golden sands, and grow exceeding big, and cast forth from the mouth a most feted and infectious breath, like the thickest smoke rising from fire.

 

These animals come together at the defined time, develop wings, and begin to raise themselves in the air, and then, by the judgement of God, being too heavy, they drop into a certain river which issues from Paradise, and perish there.

 

  1. But all the regions round about watch for the time of the Dragons, and when they see that one has fallen, they wait for a number of days, and then go down and find the bare bones of the Dragon, and take the carbuncle which is rooted in the top of his head, and carry it to the Emperor of the Ethiopians, whom you call Prestre Joan.

 

3 Jordanus, or Jordan of Severac (1280–1330). A Catalan or Occitan Dominican missionary who wrote his book the Mirabilia to extol the marvels he had found in the Orient.

 

He is the first writer to associate Prester John with Ethiopia (and not the Middle East, India or Mongolia), and encourages the Pope to foster an alliance with this Prester John – such advice will partly lead to the Portuguese exploration of Africa, and to their short lived alliance with the Ethiopians in the 16th century.