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Prince Edmund (Blackadder)

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Prince Edmund Plantagenet, Duke of Edinburgh (August/September 1461 - December 1498) is a fictional character in the first series of the BBC sitcom The Black Adder.

Character overview

Edmund is (officially) 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 McAngus, 3rd Duke of Argyll. Which of the two men was his biological father is uncertain, although it seems that it was probably McAngus. A slimy, amoral schemer, he is a complete nonentity in the Royal Family. The King despises him, frequently calling him by the wrong name and even more frequently forgetting that he exists at all, in contrast to the affection in which he holds his eldest son, Harry (Robert East). 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).

In contrast to later versions of the Blackadder character (Blackadder II onwards), the original Blackadder is portrayed as incompetent, stupid, and cowardly, unlike in later versions when he is often portrayed as intelligent, sophisticated and cowardly. However Blackadder's continued quest for more power continues, seeming to become ever more difficult as he moves down the social food chain, and is eventually replaced by a desire to escape the Great War alive.

Episode list

  • The Foretelling

Richard III (Peter Cook) wins the Battle of Bosworth Field, but is killed by his incompetent great-nephew Edmund, who also saves the life of the leader of the enemy, Henry Tudor. Richard IV is proclaimed King, and Edmund, elevated to Prince, re-styles himself as "The Black Adder". 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.

  • Born to be King

With King Richard's imminent return from the Crusades, Dougal McAngus (Alex Norton), the King's Supreme Commander, is awarded Edmund's Scottish land. In revenge, Edmund plots to kill him, until McAngus 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 McAngus' 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 Archbishop

The King, in order to more easily manipulate the huge wealth and property of the Church, makes Edmund Archbishop of Canterbury. Things go well for the reluctant Edmund at first - 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 churchl career.

  • The Queen of Spain's Beard

To improve international relations with Spain, 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, then by attempting to marry a random peasant woman, 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.

  • Witchsmeller Pursuivant

With Black Death sweeping across England, the country is in turmoil, and the King goes temporarily insane. 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. With this, he puts him on trial and of course, finds him guilty. Edmund is set to be burnt at the stake, but is saved by his mother, the Queen, who is an actual witch.

  • The Black Seal

January 29, 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, his dukedom of Edinburgh being transferred to Thomas, Lord Hastings. He is outraged and plots to seize the throne. He rounds up the most evil men in England, but on his way back, he is stopped by his arch nemesis and childhood rival, Philip of Burgundy - known to his enemies as The Hawk (Patrick Allen). He is imprisoned, 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, 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 drinking the wine. His last words are: "And now at last I shall be King of E--".


The book Blackadder: The Whole Damn Dynasty chronicled 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.

Edmund has illegitimate descendants who adopt the surname "Blackadder" and are given lordship 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.

Percy and Baldrick also leave descendants who continue to be associated with the Blackadders.

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)
  • Archbishop of Canterbury (for a brief period in 1487)
  • King Edmund III of England (for about 30 seconds in December 1498)
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Prince Edmund (Blackadder). The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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