The Foretelling

The Foretelling

Infobox Television episode
Title = The Foretelling
Series = Blackadder

Caption = The Hideous Crones
Airdate = 15 June 1983
Writer = Rowan Atkinson
Richard Curtis
Director =
Guests = Peter Cook
Episode list = List of Blackadder episodes
Season = 1
Episode = 1
Prev = The Black Adder (pilot episode)
Next = "Born to be King"

"The Foretelling" was the first episode of the first season of the BBC sitcom "Blackadder" ("The Black Adder"). It introduces Edmund Blackadder, and opens with a narrative dispelling the depiction of King Richard III as a depraved murderer. The premise is that Henry Tudor rewrote history to portray himself as the slayer of Richard III, and the show intends to rectify the situation by telling the real story of the king that succeeded Richard III, and the events that led to Henry Tudor's becoming King Henry VII.


Battle of Bosworth Field

A feast is held at the castle of King Richard III of England just before the decisive battle with the Lancastrians, led by Henry Tudor. The king, played by Peter Cook, gives a speech copied verbatim from Shakespeare's play (for which the credits give due notice), and everyone cheers, including Lord Edmund Plantagenet, son of the king's nephew Richard, Duke of York.

However, when Edmund cheers for the King the Duke enquires as to Edmund's identity. As his own father then appears not to know him, Edmund has to be identified by his brother, Harry, Earl of March. The King is not particularly impressed by his grand-nephew and asks the Duke: "You're, er, not putting him anywhere near me, are you?"

After this less than heart-warming reception Edmund turns to speak to his "friend" Lord Percy Percy, Duke of Northumberland. The two are soon joined by an ex-dung heap employee called Baldrick, who with a bit of flattery manages to win enough favour with Edmund to be chosen as his squire for the morning battle.

Predictably, the next day, both Edmund and Baldrick oversleep. Once woken by Edmund's mother, Gertrude of Flanders, they rush to the battlefield, Edmund by horse and Baldrick by mule. Edmund is initially eager to participate in "The first decent battle since I reached puberty," but, observing the combatants from afar, he comes to the realisation that "fighting" could lead to "death". He decided at that moment to remain a spectator. Noticing, however, an attempt to steal his horse, Edmund finally draws his sword and decapitates the stranger.

He is initially surprised by, then proud of, his first kill, until he recognizes the stranger to be his great-uncle Richard, the King of England. That night the victorious army swears to the Title of their new King Richard IV of England (played by Brian Blessed), nephew of their fallen monarch, and Edmund's father. Harry and Edmund are promoted to Royal Princes. The accidental murder places Edmund second in line to inherit the English throne.

The Black Adder

Edmund resolves to become more assertive, giving himself the title The Black Vegetable. Baldrick instead suggests The Black Adder, which Edmund wisely adopts, although few people are aware of his nom de guerre.

A less fortunate consequence of his experience in battle is that Edmund finds himself haunted by the ghost of his great-uncle (in a manner clearly similar to Macbeth's haunting by Banquo's ghost.) At one point the ghost chases him into a foggy meadow, where Edmund meets three witches (Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia), who predict that this "Ruler of men, Ravisher of women, Slayer of kings" shall live to become King. An increasingly ambitious Edmund thus proclaims "History, here I come!". But, when he leaves the meadow, the witches remark among themselves that they had expected Henry Tudor to look different. This event also was reminiscent of Macbeth. Additionally, the witches' names are those of the daughters of King Lear.

As the second son of the King, Edmund's new official titles include: Duke of Edinburgh; Lord Warden of the Royal Privies; and the Laird of Roxburgh, Selkirk, and Peebles. These however come with little actual authority.

See also

*Battle of Bosworth Field

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