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How did an emperor’s love for falconry help him win a crusade?

And how did it help bring Europe out of the Dark Ages?

In the Kunsthishistoriches Museum, a gold embroidered hood created for a falcon demonstrates that in centuries past, European nobility held falcons in high esteem.

Falconry was the sport of kings.

And no king in history loved falconry more than Frederick the Second, who was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1220.

But in 1226, Frederick was pulled away from his favorite sport when the Pope ordered him to lead a crusade.

There had been several previous attempts to take Jerusalem for Christendom.  All had failed miserably. But as Holy Roman Emperor, it was Frederick’s duty to try again.

He marched into Palestine with an army, but unlike previous would-be conquerors he didn’t simply order an attack.   He sent messages to Arab leaders communicating his desire to negotiate.

During the diplomatic talks, Frederick soon realized that he and his Arab counterparts shared a common interest: falconry.

This changed everything… but not the way you might expect.  It turned out that sharing an interest in falcons led Frederick to learn something that Europeans desperately needed to know.

What did this mean for the success of Frederick’s crusade?  What special Arab knowledge would Frederick bring back to Europe?

All will be revealed in Museum Secrets: Inside the Kunsthistorisches Museum.