Set in the Middle Ages, the series is written as a secret history. It opens on 21 August 1485, the eve of the Battle of Bosworth Field, which in the series is won not by Henry Tudor (as in reality) but by Richard III. Richard III, played by Peter Cook, is presented as a good king who doted on his nephews, contrary to the Shakespearean view of him as a hunchbacked, infanticidal monster.
After his victory in the battle, Richard III is then unintentionally killed by Lord Edmund Plantagenet; Richard borrows Edmund's horse, which he thinks is a stray. Not recognizing the king, Edmund thinks Richard is stealing it and cuts his head off. The late King's nephew, Richard, Duke of York (played by Brian Blessed) who is Lord Edmund Plantagenet's father, is then crowned as Richard IV. Lord Edmund himself did not take part in the battle after arriving late, but later claims to have killed 450 peasants and several nobles, one of whom had actually been killed by his brother in the battle.
King Richard IV of England and XII of Scotland and his Queen Gertrude of Flanders have two sons: Harry, Prince of Wales and his younger brother Prince Edmund. Of the two, Harry is by far his father's favourite, the King barely acknowledging his second son's existence. It is a running gag throughout the series that Edmund's father cannot even remember his name.
Using this premise, the series follows the fictitious reign of Richard IV (1485–98) through the experiences of Prince Edmund, who styles himself as "The Black Adder", and his two sidekicks: the imbecilic Lord Percy Percy, the Duke of Northumberland (Tim McInnerny); and Baldrick (Tony Robinson), a more intelligent servant of no status.
By the end of the series, events converge with accepted history, when King Richard IV and his entire family are poisoned, allowing Henry Tudor to take the throne as King Henry VII. He then rewrites history, presenting Richard III as a monster, and eliminating Richard IV's reign from the history books. In reality, Richard, Duke of York, one of the Princes in the Tower, was only twelve years old (and perhaps two years dead) when the Battle of Bosworth Field took place in 1485, and thus too young to have had two adult sons. One notable anachronism is Edmund´s title, Duke of Edinburgh, as the United Kingdom was non-existent at the time of the series.
Read more about this topic: The Blackadder
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Famous quotes containing the word plot:
“But, when to Sin our byast Nature leans,
The careful Devil is still at hand with means;
And providently Pimps for ill desires:
The Good Old Cause, revivd, a Plot requires,
Plots, true or false, are necessary things,
To raise up Common-wealths and ruine Kings.”
—John Dryden (16311700)
“The plot! The plot! What kind of plot could a poet possibly provide that is not surpassed by the thinking, feeling reader? Form alone is divine.”
—Franz Grillparzer (17911872)
“Morality for the novelist is expressed not so much in the choice of subject matter as in the plot of the narrative, which is perhaps why in our morally bewildered time novelists have often been timid about plot.”
—Jane Rule (b. 1931)