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I’ve been researching in the past few months, trying to find a historical context fitted for my character, Elizabeth. It took me a really long time to find her a family. I searched throughout the 14th, 15th and 16th century, through different countries and countless noble families trying to find a place for her. I tried making her the daughter of a king, the daughter of a pope, until I finally found the perfect time and place for her. She is the daughter of Philip the Good.

I made a family tree for her. This is how it goes:

John II of France, from house of Valois had 7 children including Charles V of France and Philip the Bold. So Charles V of France and Philip the Bold were brothers. Charles V had a son, called Charles VI of France. Philip the Bold was Charles VI’s uncle. Philip the Bold had a son too, John the Fearless. Charles V was John’s uncle, and Charles VI was John’s cousin. So Charles VI of France and John the Fearless were cousins. Charles VI had many children including Michelle Valois, Catherine Valois and Louis, the Dauphin. John the Fearless had 7 daughters and 1 son, Philip the Good. The two cousins, Charles VI of France and John the Fearless, decided to marry their children together. John married one of his daughters, Margaret, to Charles VI’s son Louis, the Dauphin. In exchange, Charles VI’s daughter, Michelle Valois married John’s only son, Philip the Good. Philip and Michelle had 1 child, Elizabeth of Burgundy. So Elizabeth’s grandfathers, Charles VI of France and John the Fearless were cousins. Charles VI of France was Elizabeth’s grandfather and Catherine Valois was Elizabeth’s aunt. Catherine Valois married Henry V of England, from house Lancaster, making the king of England Elizabeth’s uncle. Catherine and Henry V had 1 son, Henry VI, who was Elizabeth’s cousin – he was the son of her mother’s sister.  Also, Philip the Good’s sister, Anne of Burgundy, who was Elizabeth’s aunt, married John Lancaster, who was Henry V’s brother, making John Lancaster Elizabeth’s uncle. So Elizabeth descends from the house of Valois, the royal family of France from her mother’s part and the royal family of Burgundy from her father’s part, she’s also related to house Lancaster, the royal family of England, since her mother’s sister – Catherine Valois – married Henry V of England, and her father’s sister – Anne of Burgundy – married Henry’s brother.

In reality Michelle Valois and Philip the Good had no surviving children. Elizabeth of Burgundy is a fictional character. All the rest is real. Elizabeth of Burgundy is the main character of our web comic, Solstice.

As I said, I’ve been researching for this for a long time, trying to find a good historical context for Elizabeth. I haven’t started drawing anything yet, so I can’t say I started working on the actual web comic yet, however I’ve been working on the plot and story and hopefully I’ll start drawing soon enough.

today I recited Shakespeare to a small army of eight-year-olds

So last week an email got sent round my college asking if anyone wanted to read some poetry to primary school kids and I was the only one who responded and I asked if I could do some Shakespeare, since I have quite a lot of experience with it, and the teacher said that would be fine.

So I was discussing with friends what I should do and they said ‘er yeah, don’t do Shakespeare.’ And I was like ‘what why’ and they went ’well, maybe if they’re over 10 but otherwise you’ll just get blank looks’ and I went ‘well I don’t want to insult their intelligence’ and then another friend was like ‘hey you should do that kid’s song ‘When I Was One’, they’ll like that!!’ (it’s a really babyish song for toddlers with silly actions) and I thought about it and was ‘like nah actually, I’ll do the ‘Once more unto the breach’ speech’

So I learned that over the week, and I was walking up to the school, and the whole way I was thinking ‘Oh god this was a terrible idea they’re going to hate it, they’re going to look at me blankly like those kids in The Polar Express, my friends were right it’s going to be a disaster’, and I was there early, so I sat in the classroom for the first half an hour, got given a cupcake by some kids from a different class, said hello to some of the kids in my class, they got a look at me.

At half 2 the teacher mentioned I would be reading some poetry, and I asked if we could go outside, which she was more than happy to allow, and the kids were all so confused (‘where are we going? Isn’t it only poetry?’) and we got onto the field, the teacher got them all to stand an arm’s length apart from each other, so I could walk around them, and I did a brief overview of where the scene came in the play, how the king is on the battlefield, talking to his soldiers (“Could all you be the soldiers?” “Yes!!”) and they’re attacking the French, who are all in a castle (forgot it’s really a castle town), and they’re attacking them through a gap in the wall, the breach. Me and the teacher emphasised that if there was anything they didn’t understand, that was completely fine and they could ask me at the end. I asked the kids to watch for when I held my fist in the air, which is when they had to cheer loudly, we had a practise at that, and then I did the speech.

Everything I had been scared about evaporated. All the kids were totally engaged, they were all watching me, they all listened right the way through, I saw lots of excited faces, and they all cheered really well at the end.

Afterwards, there was a lot of chatter, several of them asked me questions (”how do you remember all those words?”, “what did you mean when you talked about nostrils?”), one boy asked me to do it again, they were all really lovely and had genuinely enjoyed it. It was so much fun, and they especially loved it when I told them how my big college friends had told me not to do Shakespeare because they wouldn’t like it. Those kids 100% proved them wrong