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Video transcript

we're in the Hoffman in Vienna in the royal treasury which is filled with crowns and scepters reliquaries and jewels it's amazing and one of the real treasures is an enormous mantle that was worn during the coronations of the Holy Roman emperors but that's not what this was made for this was made in the 12th century in Sicily actually in the Royal workshops of roger ii who was a norman that ruled now the Normans you might remember actually began as Vikings they came down from the north and they eventually settled in northwestern friends and also at the bottom of Italy and the island of Sicily and that's where this was made so this is a really large cloak you can see the clasps at the top for where it would have been worn over the shoulders and it's made of red silk gold stitching and thousands of pearls and enamel plates and jewels and it's an exceptional condition the enamel is made in clothes and egg wear very fine walls of gold separate the enamel themselves as they melt as they vitrified and what's so interesting about this mantle is if you look at its imagery even though it was made for a Christian ruler it's full of Islamic motifs it was made by Islamic artisans and we see that in the lion overpowering a camel we see it in the calligraphic script along the semicircular bottom and the Tree of Life in the center a motif almost identical to that in the Dome of the rock in Jerusalem these are motifs that come out of pattern books that would have transversed the Islamic world and were copied over hundreds of years the robe was clearly meant to symbolize power look at the forms of those lions they're schematic and not terribly naturalistic but they evoke a real sense of fierceness in their faces and they're puffed out chests and the camels look so subdued and overpowered those camels are domesticated they're actually wearing Saddles one of the interpretations of this iconography of the symbolism is that the lions are actually representing the Normans the House of roger ii had as its symbol the lion whereas the camel might be a reference to people's that roger had conquered so although this cloak was made in the 12th century it acquired the legend that it was made for Charlemagne for the very first Holy Roman Emperor for the ninth century but we know that that's not the case because in fact the Kufa Conscription Arabic writing gives us a specific date this mantel was worked in the most magnificent royal splendor perfection might superiority approval prosperity magnanimity beauty the fulfillment of all desires and hopes felicitous days and nights without cease or change with authority with honor freedom from harm triumph and livelihood in the city of Sicily in the year 528 528 according to the Islamic calendar dating from the time of Mohammed this correlated with the 12th century in the western calendar those plates also have a kind of important iconography that has an Islamic origin you'll see a star that's made out of the intersection of two squares and going back to the beginning of Islam there was a notion that the earth was a square and the heavens were square here we see those overlaid and so you do have a kind of cosmological reference and perhaps a reference that Roger himself ruled over all there's a clear sense here of speaking to the owners Randor just imagine through history those that were crowned Holy Roman Emperor wearing this garment carrying an orb carrying a scepter the Pope a huge ensemble of the most powerful people in the West it must have been quite a sight to see you