Prince Edmund (Blackadder)
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
|Prince Edmund Plantagenet/The Black Adder|
|First appearance||The Foretelling|
|Last appearance||The Black Seal|
|Portrayed by||Rowan Atkinson|
Duke of Edinburgh
Archbishop of Canterbury
Warden of the Royal Privies
King of England (for 30 seconds)
Laird of Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles
|Family||Richard IV (father)
|Spouse(s)||Princess Leia of Hungary|
|Relatives||Edmund Blackadder (great-grandson)
E. Blackadder (descendant)
Ebenezer Blackadder (descendant)
Edmund Blackadder (descendant)
Edmund III (descendant)
See here for more
Prince Edmund Plantagenet, Duke of Edinburgh, otherwise known as The Black Adder or simply Blackadder, is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the first series of the BBC sitcom Blackadder.
Prince Edmund (1461–1498) is the son of King Richard IV of England (Brian Blessed) by his Queen Gertrude of Flanders (Elspet Gray). Gertrude was at the time of his conception having an affair with Donald MacAngus, 3rd Duke of Argyll. Which of the two men was his biological father is uncertain, although it seems that it was probably MacAngus. A slimy, amoral schemer, Edmund is a complete nonentity in the Royal Family to everybody except his mother and his brother. The King is utterly contemptuous of his son, frequently calling him by the wrong name (usually Egbert, Edward, Edwin, Edgar, Edith, Edna or Osmond) and, more frequently, forgetting he even exists at all, in contrast to the affection in which he holds his eldest son, Prince Harry (Robert East). In the first episode, Edmund is merely a distant member of the Royal Family, but in the Battle of Bosworth, he accidentally kills his great-uncle, King Richard III, a crime later blamed on their enemy, Henry Tudor. Following their father's coronation, Edmund and Harry are promoted to Royal Princes. In order to stand out, Edmund invents a nom de guerre for himself, The Black Adder, though few are aware of his new nickname. Following this, Edmund hatches a "cunning plan" in every episode to elevate himself to the throne over his brother; these plots invariably fail. He is assisted in his every scheme by his henchmen and only friends, Baldrick (Tony Robinson) and Lord Percy Percy (Tim McInnerny). Throughout the series, Edmund goes through a series of misadventures: he is almost proven to be an illegitimate son by Dougal MacAngus, who he later kills in revenge; he briefly becomes the Archbishop of Canterbury in order to help his father seize more land from dying nobles before the Church can, something which gains him his father's respect; he is betrothed to the unattractive Spanish Infanta but ends up marrying the child Princess Leia of Hungary after Spain betrays England; and he is almost burned alive as a witch following a show trial by a fraudulent Witchsmeller.
Ultimately, ironically when the King begins to recognise Edmund as his son and realise how much he loves him, Edmund decides to hatch a plan to overthrow his father in response to his father relieving him of his duchy. He recruits the six most evil men in England to aid him, but he is impeded by an old rival, Philip of Burgundy (Patrick Allen), who sways the evil men to his side and subjects Edmund to a torture chair which chops off his hands and earlobes and castrates him. Though Philip and the assassins are killed by Baldrick and Percy, who serve them poisoned wine while disguised as maids, they are too late to save Edmund. On Edmund's deathbed, the King finally calls Edmund by his real name, does his best to console him and has the entire court drink a toast in Edmund's honour (though he erroneously calls him "Edmund, the Black Dagger"), but everyone present suddenly collapses dead, since Percy had unwittingly poisoned the whole vat of wine. Wondering what the cause of everyone's death was, Edmund foolishly tries the wine. For the next five seconds, Edmund almost declares himself King of England, but he dies before he can finish.
Following the death of the entire Royal Family, Henry Tudor resurfaces, seizes the crown and rewrites history to make it look as though he himself killed Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth, as well as eradicating Richard IV, Edmund and Harry from history by portraying Richard III as a hunchbacked madman who murdered his nephews when they were children (which would obviously lead to Edmund never being conceived). Despite this, Edmund's legacy is continued in Blackadder II, where his great-grandson, Lord Blackadder, is the main protagonist. At some point, his descendants adopt his nickname as a surname, becoming Edmund Blackadder (except for Ebenezer Blackadder) instead of Edmund Plantagenet. He is briefly mentioned in the closing credits of Blackadder II, as being King of England for only thirty seconds.
In contrast to most later versions of the Blackadder character, the original (and first) Blackadder is portrayed as incompetent and slow-witted snake. He does, however, show many traits very similar to his later versions: his "cunning plans" are cunning but rarely work, (presumably due to Percy) he makes Baldrick do his dirty work, he despises Lord Percy, he is a schemer, he is creatively insulting, and, most noticeably, he is foolhardy and cowardly at the same time.
Richard III (Peter Cook) wins the Battle of Bosworth Field, but is accidentally killed by his incompetent great-nephew Edmund who thinks he is stealing his horse, who also unintentionally saves the life of the leader of the enemy, Henry Tudor (Peter Benson), only realising who he is when seeing a portrait, by which time Henry is escaping from Edmund's bed, where he was recovering. Edmund was going to leave Henry to die in the cottage where they came across him, but as they were leaving Percy overheard Henry say he was rich, so Percy brought him back thinking there would be a reward. Richard IV is proclaimed King, and Edmund, elevated to Prince, re-styles himself first as "The Black Vegetable" before thinking better of Baldrick's suggestion of "The Black Adder". However, he is haunted by Richard's angry ghost, including a scene at the feast based on the Ghost of Banquo scene in Macbeth. He then meets three witches who prophesy that he will one day be King; he does not know that they thought he was Henry Tudor.
With King Richard's imminent return from the Crusades, Dougal MacAngus (Alex Norton), the King's Supreme Commander, is awarded Edmund's Scottish land. In revenge, Edmund plots to kill him by replacing a false dagger with a real one for a play MacAngus is playing a murder victim in, until MacAngus reveals letters that show the Queen had an affair with his father. Thinking that his brother Harry is illegitimate, Edmund reveals this to the court, only to be humiliated when they reveal that he is more likely the illegitimate one. In revenge, Edmund blows MacAngus' head off with a cannon.
This episode, though inaccurate in its depiction of an English nobleman in medieval times being the duke of anywhere within Scotland, takes the concept of the treacherous (and illegitimate) Edmund from King Lear further, and also satirizes the Medieval views of entertainment, such as bearded ladies and eunuchs. Edmund also expresses outrage that Morris dancing is still around in his day and age.
The King, in order to more easily manipulate the huge wealth and property of the Church, makes Edmund Archbishop of Canterbury after having the previous one killed for making him lose the Duke of Winchester's lands. Things go well for the reluctant Edmund at first, particularly after he convinces a dying Lord to sign his lands over to the Crown, - until a pair of drunken knights (freshly returned from the Crusades), overkeen to advance in the royal favour, misinterpret a comment made by him [the King], and set out to murder the Archbishop (in reality, the Archbishop Thomas Becket was assassinated in 1170 by knights of Henry II in Canterbury Cathedral). Edmund, Percy and Baldrick take the fight into a nunnery and, by twisting the truth when the outraged Mother Superior finds them, Edmund manipulates her into writing to the Vatican and terminating his hated episcopal career.
To improve international relations with Spain in an attempt to threaten France during a peroid of turmoil in Europe, Richard IV decides to marry Edmund to the Spanish Infanta (Miriam Margolyes). Finding her grossly unattractive, Edmund tries to get out of the marriage—firstly by pretending to be gay and dressing like the Earl of Doncaster, then by attempting to marry Talley Applebottom, a random peasant woman, which fails when her husband turns up at the ceremony, and then by having Baldrick surreptitiously sleep with the lascivious Infanta so that she is not a virgin. All his schemes fail miserably and so he resigns to his fate. At the last moment, however, the political landscape shifts, and an alliance with Spain is no longer viable—much to Edmund's relief. The King then orders him to marry the 8-year-old Princess Leia of Hungary (Natasha King) instead, and in the closing scene Edmund is reading his new bride a bedtime story.
With Black Death sweeping across England, the country is in turmoil, and the King is one of the many who has caught the disease. He is temporarily insane, nearly killing Edmund when mistaking him for one of the Turkish. The Lords blame witchcraft, so the Witchsmeller Pursuivant (Frank Finlay) is summoned to identify the culprit. Having heard Edmund insult him earlier, the Witchsmeller immediately decides that Edmund is responsible, and tricks him into failing a trial. With this, he puts him on trial and of course, finds him guilty. Edmund, Percy, and Baldrick are set to be burnt at the stake, but are saved by Edmund's mother, the Queen, who is secretly an actual witch, and who also causes the death of the Witchsmeller.
29 January 1498, Saint Juniper's Day, the day the King of England bestows honours to his kinfolk. When Edmund is reduced by his father to the sole dignity of Lord Warden of the Royal Privies, with his dukedom of Edinburgh being transferred to Thomas, Lord Hastings, while Harry is given numerous honours, he is outraged and plots to seize the throne. He first dismisses Percy and Baldrick. He then rounds up the six most evil men in England, but on his way back, he is stopped by his nemesis and childhood rival, Philip of Burgundy - known to his enemies as The Hawk (Patrick Allen), who had disguised himself as a retired Morris dancer. He is imprisoned in a cell with snails, but escapes after getting a key from Mad Gerald (Rik Mayall), made from Gerald's teeth, albeit after a year since being locked up. He then summons the Black Seal who hide in wait for the Hawk. But his band join the Hawk, and he is tortured horribly by a machine developed by the Hawk specifically for the purpose, which is unnecessarily complicated and designed to grind various parts of Edmund (including his beloved codlings) into mince. Baldrick and Percy poison the conspirators with drugged wine, but are too late to stop the machine. Edmund survives long enough to be comforted by his family, and the King finally remembers his name, before saying 'Sorry, Edgar,' although he gets his nom de guerre wrong, calling him The Black Dagger. However, they toast the dying Edmund with poisoned wine Percy had left behind. They all die, leaving Edmund King at long last. However, he soon expires himself after he foolishly opts to check that the wine was the killer by sipping it, making him only King for about 30 seconds.
The book Blackadder: The Whole Damn Dynasty includes an appendix that expands on the fictional chronology of the television show. This chronicles that following the death of the entire Royal Family, Henry Tudor usurped the throne and re-wrote history to eliminate the reign of Richard IV and, therefore, Edmund. Additionally, Edmund has illegitimate descendants who adopt the surname "Blackadder" and are given noble status.
As revealed in Blackadder II, he has at least three grandsons: one named Osric is kidnapped and his ransom not paid, another named Nathaniel marries a fanatical Puritan and holds the peerage of Whiteadder, and another one squanders the family fortune "on wine, women and amateur dramatics"; by the end of his life he ekes out a living doing humorous impressions of Anne of Cleves. His great-grandson, Edmund, Lord Blackadder serves as a courtier of Elizabeth I of England, last member of the Tudor dynasty.
In following series, descendants of Percy and Baldrick continue to appear as characters closely associated with the Blackadders. Percy's final appearance is in Blackadder II and his role is primarily replaced by the George character, but the Darling character in Blackadder Goes Forth is implied to be a descendant of Percy, due to the strong resemblance.
Titles and honours
- Lord Edmund Plantagenet (1461–1485)
- The Duke of Edinburgh (1485–1498)
- Lord Warden of the Royal Privies (1485–1498)
- The Laird of Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (1485–1487–1498)
- Archbishop of Canterbury (for a brief period in 1487)
- King of England (for about 30 seconds in December 1498)