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The Foretelling
The Foretelling
Title Card
The Black Adder, Episode 1
Written by Richard Curtis & Rowan Atkinson
additional dialogue by William Shakespeare
Directed by Martin Shardlow
Guest stars Peter Cook
Peter Benson
Original airdate 15th June 1983
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"The Foretelling" is the first episode of The Black Adder, which is the first series in the Blackadder continuum.


A feast is held at the castle of King Richard III of England just before the Battle of Bosworth Field, the decisive battle against the army of Henry Tudor. The king (Peter Cook) gives a speech taken verbatim from Shakespeare's play (for which the credits give due notice). Lord Edmund Plantagenant, Duke of Edinburgh cheers for the King, to the entire court's baffled silence. Edmund's own father, Richard, Duke of York, does not recognize him.

Edmund turns to speak to his friend Lord Percy Percy, Duke of Northumberland. The two are soon joined by an ex-dung heap employee Baldrick, Son of Robin the Dung Gatherer, who with a bit of flattery manages to win enough favor 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 fight but, observing the combatants from afar, he comes to the realization that fighting could lead to death. He decides at that moment to remain a spectator.

Richard has won the battle and his kingdom is safe, but has lost his horse. After telling his nephew that he will meet him back at the castle, he wonders off and calls out while whistling as if to a dog. "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"

Noticing an attempt to steal his horse, Edmund draws his sword and decapitates what he seems to be one of the enemy who turns out to be none other than his Great Uncle Richard.

With Baldrick's help, Edmund hides the body in a cottage but forgot the head, which Percy brings, claiming it to be his triumph until realizing whose head it was. Before they can escape, a nobleman (Henry Tudor (Peter Benson)), begs to be sheltered in exchange for his land and money, which Percy accepts. Returning to the castle, Edmund's older brother Lord Harry Plantagenet, Earl of March stumbles across Richard III's body, bringing it back as proof of his death. Fortunately everyone assumes Henry Tudor to be the murderer, and Edmund gets away with his crime. That night the victorious army swears to the Title of their new King Richard IV of England; Harry and Edmund are promoted to Royal Princes.

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

Later, Edmund finds himself haunted by the ghost of his great-uncle (in a manner clearly similar to Macbeth's haunting by Banquo's ghost). Realizing Percy brought the wounded Henry Tudor back to the castle Edmund, not knowing who he is, questions his wealth, which Henry immediately denies so as to avoid suspicion. During the celebratory banquet in honor of the new king, Edmund is horrified at realizing he was sheltering their enemy when a portrait of Henry Tudor is presented for ridicule. Furthermore, when Edmund slips out the secret to his mother that he killed King Richard III, Henry Tudor escapes with this knowledge to use in future to exaggerate the history of his predecessor. Eventually, the ghost of Richard III chases Edmund into a foggy meadow, where he meets three witches (Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia), who predict that this "Ruler of men, Ravisher of women, Slayer of kings" shall one day become King. 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, and less Jewish.



  • When Richard III was killed he was succeeded by his nephew, as Richard IV. It is never explained what happened to Prince Edward (the real-world Edward V), Richard's older brother (who was shown, as a child, in the opening).