The present essay deals with one of the innumerables literary mentions of Priest John in the middle Ages, especially in the Catalan version (K) of Marco Polo’s Devisement du Monde/Milione. The Catalan translation of the famous travel account is an abbreviated version conveyed by three manuscripts and containing an interesting mention of Priest John, which does not appear in any other version of Marco’s text. This mention connects the legendary souverain to the African countries of Ethiopia and Nubia, displaying thus the translatio of John’s seat from Asia to Africa, which took place in the first half of the XIVth century. After having resumed the main points of one of the luckiest medieval fake, this paper will take into consideration Priest John’s role in Marco Polo’s Milione. Passages taken from the capital Franco-Italian version of BnF f. fr. 1116 will be compared to corresponding sections of K version, namely the Catalan text of manuscript Ricc. 2048 of the Biblioteca Riccardiana in Florence. Priest John’s relocation in Ethiopia/Nubia will then be connected to medieval confusion between India and Ethiopia and between Ethiopia and Nubia, with an insight into carthography. Finally, the Priest’s African translatio will be analysed in the light of the historical context of XIVth century Europe.
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