- "History has known many great liars. Copernicus, Goebbels, St. Ralph the Liar. But there have been none quite so vile as the Tudor King Henry VII. It was he who rewrote history to portray his predecessor, Richard III, as a deformed maniac who killed his nephews in the Tower. But the real truth is that Richard was a kind and thoughtful man who cherished his young wards, in particular Richard, Duke of York, who grew into a big, strong boy. Henry also claimed he won the Battle of Bosworth Field and killed Richard III. Again, the truth is very different; for it was Richard, Duke of York, who became king after Bosworth Field, and reigned for thirteen glorious years. As for who really killed Richard III and how the defeated Henry Tudor escaped with his life, all is revealed in this, the first chapter of a history never before told: the history of... the Black Adder!"
The story of The Black Adder begins with the Battle of Bosworth Field. King Richard III, actually a kind man who lavished love on his two nephews, fights alongside his nephew Richard, Duke of York and the Duke's son Harry. And then there's his other son Edmund, who, after obtaining the aid of the street smart peasant Baldrick and the dimwitted Lord Percy Percy, oversleeps on the day of the battle and then decides to abstain anyway upon getting a look at the carnage. He then kills a man who appeared to be stealing his horse, only to find it was actually the victorious King Richard. As he, Baldrick, and Percy dispose of the body, they come across the defeated Henry Tudor, but don't recognize him. Edmund returns to the castle and accidentally blabs about King Richard's death, but fortunately for him the others assume that Henry Tudor was his assailant. As the Duke is crowned King Richard IV, Edmund is displeased to learn that Baldrick and Percy brought Henry, the one man who knows the truth, to the castle, but after hearing that he may reward them for helping him, his ego receives such a boost that on the spot he declares he'll be taking on a new title...The Black Vegetable! Luckily, Baldrick suggests The Black Adder would be a better choice, and he soon picks out an all-black outfit to fit his new image. At dinner that night, a portrait of Henry is brought out to be desecrated, and upon seeing it Edmund finally realizes who he's got in his bedroom. He races away to find that Henry has already escaped, and the vengeful ghost of Richard III conjures up a fog that foils Edmund's pursuit. But it's not a total loss, as he runs into three strange old women who declare that one day he will be king. He heads back to the castle, gleefully anticipating his destiny...and the women realize Henry Tudor was actually the man who passed them just before Edmund.
- Alternate History: Or Tudor fiction.
- Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Edmund's mother, upon hearing that Henry Tudor has won the battle of Bosworth resigns herself to being ravished by the conquering troops. When it turns out that Henry lost and the "enemy forces" Edmund is panicking over is his father returning she says wearily to her husband "So I suppose you are going ravish me?" to which he replies "In a moment dear, in a moment. The woman's insatiable..."
- Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: When Prince Edmund thinks the castle is under attack:Edmund: Run for the hills! Run for the hills!
Baldrick: My lord, they're coming from the hills.
Edmund: Run away from the hills! Run away from the hills! If you see the hills, run the other way!
- Bestiality Is Depraved: Edmund's attempt to hide the fact that both Henry Tudor and the ghost of Richard III are in his bedroom — not knowing that he's the only person who can see the latter — results in a (somewhat) unfortunate misunderstanding with the Queen.Queen: Have you got someone in there with you?
Edmund: Erm, not as such...
Queen: Is it a woman?
Queen: Is it a man?
Edmund: Er... (King Richard's ghost's head flies around the room) er, yes, yes it is.
Queen: You hesitated, Edmund — it's not a sheep, is it?
- Brick Joke:
- St. Ralph the Liar is given as one of history's great liars in the opening narration. Later on, it turns out the Battle of Bosworth Field takes place on Ralph the Liar's Day.
- Before the battle, Edmund murmurs that if Richard's side loses, his private parts will wind up in a tree "somewhere in Rutland". As part of Richard's speech, he tells his troops "consign their parts most private to a Rutland tree!"
- Cannon Fodder: When the King and Richard, Duke of York are talking about Edmund:King: You're, er, not putting him anywhere near me, are you?Richard: No, no, no. He'll be somewhere amongst the rabble.King: Oh! Arrow fodder!Richard: Precisely.
- Dead Star Walking: Peter Cook as Richard III.
- Early-Bird Cameo: the Bishop of Bath and Wells is mentioned...no sign of him being a baby-eater yet.
- Famous, Famous, Fictional: "history has known many great liars. Copernicus, Goebbels, St. Ralph the Liar.
- Miles Gloriosus: After the battle, Blackadder claims to have killed nearly all of the Lancaster nobles. Including some who'd been killed by other people, like his brother. Fortunately, Harry's too much of a ditz to spot the incongruity.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Edmund killing king Richard, and Percy rescuing king Henry.
- Off with His Head!: King Richard got mistaken as a Tudor wanting to steal Edmund's horse. Hilarity Ensues.
- Schizo Tech: Unfortunately, the workings of the alarm sundial have presumably been lost to history. Or Tudor bastards.
- Shaped Like Itself:Edmund: Then I shall call you Baldrick, Baldrick.Baldrick: Then I shall call you my lord, my lord.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: So often that the bard is credited with "additional dialogue." Speeches from Richard III and Henry V are parodied, Percy gets an Alas, Poor Yorick moment with Richard III's head, Harry says "Good night, sweet king," the three witches from Macbeth show up...you get the idea.
- Spell My Name with a "The": Edmund wants to be called The Black Vegetable. Baldrick persuades him The Black Adder sounds better.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Edmund is asked how does he know King Richard is dead, he says: "Errr, well, I wouldn't know, really. I was...nowhere near him at the time. I... I just...heard from someone that he'd, er... er... I mean, I don't even know where he was killed. I was completely on the opposite side of the field. I was nowhere near the cottage. Not that it was a cottage - it was a river. But, then, I wouldn't know, of course, because I wasn't there."
- Title Drop: Subverted.
- Wham Line: Just as Lord Percy is carrying the (unbeknownst to him) head of King Richard as spoils of war and believing it to be the head of another nobleman from which he can claim manhood.Blackadder: And which nobleman pray...?
- What Happened to the Mouse?: While the episode reveals that Richard III did in fact not kill Edward V or Richard, Duke of York, it doesn't reveal what did happen to Edward. Granted, Edward was ruled an illegitimate son, thereby making him ineligible to become King, but that would have also prevented Richard from being crowned as well — though in fairness, Richard would probably have just killed anyone who objected to his taking the throne.
- Written by the Winners: What Henry VII does to Richard IV's Reign once he gains the throne.