Character Survey

This post is one in a series about the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.  You can find the other posts here.  Thank you.

One of the things that you are required to do when you are a character in the Ren Fest, is to fill out a character survey.  It helps you to research and figure out who your character truly is.

This is especially helpful if you have a historical character like I do.

I was cast in the role of Princess Sophia Hapsburg of Poland, sister to Princesses Isabella and Catherine.  The first thing that I learned?  That it was actually Sophia Jagiellon and that the Jagiellon family fought the Hapsburgs.

The survey is … Well, let me post mine for you to read.

Name Given at Birth:  My name is Zofia Jagiellon of Poland

Princess Sophia

Sophia Jagiellon, by Lucas Cranach the Younger [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Nicknames:  Most call me Princess Sophia, but my sisters call me Sophie.

Hometown or where you were born:  I was born in Krakow, Poland on July 13, 1522.

Current Residence:  I live with my husband, Henry V, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg in Wolfenbuttel, Germany

Age:  I be the wise old age of 37 summers.

Class:  I be of the nobility class.  My father is good King Sigismund I of Poland and my mother is Bona Sforza of Italy.

What do you do, your main function in life/society:  My main function is to serve my husband and take care of his household.  I help run the castle while he is away with his army.

Have you ever gone skinny-dipping / do you know how to swim:  Yes, I do know how to swim, but please do not tell anyone, as it is a most grievous secret.  I often have snuck out of Wolfenbuttel Castle to swim in the Oker River.  My husband is often away, and I find … comfort … in swimming.

Do you make fun of people:  No!  A lady of good breeding would never insult anyone.

Favorite Color:  My favorite color is a deep shade of blue.  It reminds me of the Oker River in the summertime, when the river is nice and warm.

Have you ever committed or been convicted of a crime:  No, I have not.  (Although my stepson, Julius will try to have me imprisoned for converting to Lutheranism.  While it is after the time we are referencing, it is important to my character because she must keep her true beliefs silent, while displaying other beliefs.)

Closest friends/How did you meet:  My closet friend is my older sister, Isabella.  We have often shared confidences and adventures. I also adore my younger sisters, Anna and Catherine.  I love to play pranks on them, but I do worry that Catherine does not yet have a suitor.

One Pillow or two:  I have a multitude of pillows and bolsters.  Oft times, when he is at home, Duke Henry and I are the only ones in our bed.  Oft times, I find myself alone.  He is often away at war.  And I’m afraid he may have a mistress.  I keep the many pillows to keep myself surrounded as I did when I was a young child.

Pets:  I find myself drawn to the little birds that flit in and out of the woods along the Oker River.  They sing so sweetly.  And I have a favorite mare at home in Brunswick named Jablka, or Apple.  She is named so because of her shape and of her favorite treat.

Favorite Type of Music:  Music.  Ah music.  I love it all, from the quiet psalms sung in a church service to the frantic rhythms of the Romani.  I know that the Romani people are not to be trusted, and I would never admit it aloud, but I do so enjoy their music.  I adore music.  Music brings a joy to my life that is often times missing.

Hobbies/Pastimes:  I enjoy needlework and playing tables with my sisters, but I also enjoy singing.

Personal Hygiene:   My mother, the beautiful Bona Sforza oft times told me that cleanliness is next to Godliness.  Since I strive to follow God in all of my ways, then I try to stay as clean as possible.  That usually consists of a warm bath every week and a light quick washing every morn.

Favorite Food:  I adore garlic roasted pork chops with baked apples.

Are your parents alive, do you get along with them:  Yes, my parents are still alive.  I have a good relationship with my mother, Bona Sforza.  My father, King Sigismund, wanted sons, so he has for the most part, ignored me.  This is fine with me, for it has allowed me the luxury of indulging in the music I adore.

If your parents are dead, when and how did they die:  My beloved mother and kingly father have not passed on yet.

Favorite place to relax:  I love to relax on the banks of the Oker River.  It brings such a sense of peace and solitude.

Favorite Holy Day / Why:  I find the Harvest Festival celebration to be most enjoyable. We have a similar custom in Krakow called St. Hedwig’s Day.

Favorite Drink:  I enjoy Perry made from the orchards of Krakow, and different sweet wines, but whilst in Canterbury, I plan to try the sweet mead made here.

What’s your bedtime:  I do not like to use my limited supply of candles.  I try not to burn more than one half of one candle per night.  That being said, I do run the household, so I will take whatever time I need to make sure that the work is done before I retire for the evening.

What, if anything, do you usually wear on your feet:  I wear shoes of a most supple leather. And my husband, Duke Henry has purchased a beautiful pair of green boots for when we ride together.

Are you married or single:  While this is my first marriage, I am the second wife to Duke Henry V of Brunswick-Lunesburg.  He had 8 children with his previous wife Maria, of whom 5 are still living.

Do you have a family / who are they:   My husband has children from a previous marriage.  However, they are more like siblings instead of children.  My father is King Sigismund I of Poland, and my mother is Bona Sforza.  My sisters are Isabella, Anna, and Catherine.  My brother is Sigismund II.  Duke Henry and I have no children as of yet, but I remain hopeful.

Favorite Entertainment:  I love to watch theatre at the castle.  We have often had troupes of players come to perform.  But a good jousting tournament is also quite entertaining.

Favorite Subject in School or Chore growing up:  I enjoyed my music lessons when I was growing up.  Father indulged me with lessons because I was not a son.  I became quite proficient in many different styles of singing and still enjoy it to this day, even though it is not for a proper lady.

Least Favorite Subject in School or Chore growing up:  I greatly disliked doing sums in school.  They confused my head so.

Favorite Sport:  I like participating in archery when my time allows, as well as riding horseback, but not on Jablka.  She much prefers grazing.

Most Humiliating Moment:  My father knew that I enjoyed singing, so one fine morn, he asked me to sing a psalm in front of the courtiers.  When I opened my mouth, nothing but the croaking of a frog came out.  I had lost my voice and my nerve all at once!  Thankfully, my mother understood and asked my father to let me try again in a fortnight.

Proudest Moment:  My proudest moment would be when I was able to sing for my father without croaking.  He applauded and smiled at me most magnificently.  My heart overflowed with happiness.

Craziest Person or silliest you know:  My sisters often tell me that I be the silliest person they know.  I enjoy life, and I enjoy making others happy.

What do you look for in the opposite sex:  I did not have the luxury of choosing for my own self.  I knew from a young age that I was a token to be traded for political favors.  If I had the opportunity to choose, I would look for a kind man that would make me smile, and treat me most gently.

In our Hierarchical Society everybody has somebody “over” them. Who is your immediate “overlord?”:   I would say that Duke Henry is my overlord.  Before him, my father King Sigismund I is the ruler, and I must do what he commands.

Favorite Sport to watch:  If I must watch sports instead of participating, then I enjoy watching jousting and feats of arms.

Do you remember your first kiss:  I do.  I was 12 years old and playing with the servant girls in a rare moment of freedom from my studies.  We were outside when I stumbled and fell.  A stable boy came to pick me up and kissed my hand.  He was most kind.

Do you keep in touch with your childhood friends:  My childhood friends would be my sisters and my brother.  My only other companions were servants.

Where is your favorite “Vacation” spot:  Canterbury is by far the most pleasant place I have ever been to.  It is not quite Krakow, but it is unique and charming.

Have you ever been overseas:  I believe Canterbury would be overseas from my home, would it not?

Do you have Dirt/Mud floors or Stone: We have stone floors that are covered with fresh rushes every fortnight.

What is your bed made of:  My bed is itself carved from a dark wood.  It has the most sumptuous velvet bed curtains in a brilliant deep shade of green.  It is stuffed with the feathers of the geese that the family has kept for years.  The bed clothes are of the crispest linen, with a warm woolen blanket, and has a multitude of pillows and bolsters upon it.

How many people sleep in your bed:  When I am at Wolfenbuttel, it is often myself and my husband, Duke Henry.  Oftentimes, it is simply myself.  When I am visiting my parents and sisters in Krakow, we four sisters usually sleep in the spare bed in order to make the most of our time together.

10 Things Everybody Should Know About Me:

  1. I love music in any form. The Cracow Academy was located near the palace, and many performers have entertained my family.
  2. I am as young as Duke Henry’s children from his wife Maria.
  3. The only one that knows that I can swim is my maid, Lucia. She helps me out of my garments when the Oker River is warm.
  4. My siostras and I have traveled to Canterbury on behalf of our good father, King Sigismund. He seeks a boon from King Henry VIII.
  5. We have also come seeking a suitor for Princess Catherine.
  6. I became most dreadfully nauseous when crossing from France to England
  7. I try to wear the color blue in some fashion every day.
  8. My mother, Bono Sforza is Italian, and has taught my sisters and me the beauty of her native tongue. Also, since we knew we were to be political tools, we were also taught French, and English.
  9. I am considered the “silly” sister because I love to laugh, but also because I enjoy things such as music, archery, and horseback riding that are not seemly for princess.
  10. When I was quite young, I climbed the highest jablka tree in the orchard at the palace in Krakow. I skinned my knees climbing up and skinned my hands climbing down. And when I returned home in such a disheveled state, my mother was not pleased.
  11. There is a rumor that I may have romantic trysts when I go swimming.  As a lady of breeding, I would never admit to such a thing. But I will say that since my husband may have a mistress and no one thinks ill of him, and since he is often away, I do take comfort in being away from his castle for brief periods. Take what intrigues you will. I will say no more.

And there you have it.  I had to research my husband, my children (or lack thereof), my home, activities I might enjoy.  I discovered that Cracow University was next door to the Jagiellon Palace, which is why Sophia might have learned so much music.

I learned that the Duke and Sophia married when she was 34.  That alone makes me even more curious.  It really has been an extremely interesting study, and I have enjoyed learning more about the character I was to become for 7 weekends.



3 thoughts on “Character Survey

    • It really is. The research and the wondering “why” has really been amazing to me. I found after I wrote the survey out, that the Jagiellon palace was close to Cracow University, and that they were of similar time frames. It is fun to think that troupes of performers would have come through on a regular and consistent basis, maybe causing her life long love of music. Of course, that’s just me and not the real Sophia.


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