Episode 1: POPE BALDRICK I
June 1215. The scorching sun burnt brightly down onto the perfect fields of Windsor, illuminating them in a heavenly way. The sky was perfect blue, with not a cloud in sight.
"Baldrick, get here now!" demanded Lord Blackadder angrily. He was standing in the messy, dark cellar that was Baldrick's quarters. His hair was curling slightly and of a brown, slightly greying, colour. He wore a posh black frock-coat and a white crisp shirt. Lord Blackadder's servant Baldrick appeared at the door of the cellar, wearing his seedy brown tunic and stained trousers, with a dirty face and straggly hair.
"Yes, Your Lordship?" queried Baldrick in his wavering tones. Blackadder slapped him hard on the face. Baldrick rubbed his significantly redder cheek.
"What was that for, sir?" he asked, confused.
"Partly because of the ghastly smell that seems to have sprung from nowhere, and partly because- I have just received word from our good friend Lord Melchettus-" he began, pronouncing the words 'good friend' with utter hate and sarcasm, "that you, Baldrick, have been out without my permission. And where to, you may ask. The answer appears to be that you have sneaked off to an auction without my permission".
"Well, you see, I 'eard about it in the paper, sir, and I thought, yeah, this sounds good, an' I went to the auction, and well, I bought some posh clothes and a big stick, sir," replied Baldrick.
"Some posh clothes and a big stick?" repeated Blackadder in disbelief. You sneaked off without my permission to buy some linen and driftwood? Anyway, Baldrick, I didn't think you had any concept of money. How did you buy these posh clothes and this big stick?".
"Well, I sold the auctioneer you, sir," replied Baldrick.
"What?!" spluttered Blackadder. "How could you sell him me?"
"It was easy. I just put up me hand and said "I'll sell you a rich nobleman", an' he said yes".
"I didn't mean 'how did the state of affairs happen?', I meant 'why on earth did you sell him me?'"
"Well I don't have any money, sir, an' I thought, what's the most valuable thing I know? And I thought hang on a minute, Lord Blackadder is the most valuable thing I know, so I put me hand up and-"
"I know this bit, Baldrick. So what, am I going to have be a servant to him?"
"Apparently? Who is this posh snob anyway?"
"It's the King, sir. King John".
"What?! You sold me as a servant, to the King?"
"Right then Baldrick. You have a busy night ahead of you. First you will line up against the wall and be pelted with tiny dung balls from Lord Melchettus' personal store, and then you will be forced to eat an entire pie from Lady Miggins' pie shop. I'll order an earwig and mud cake, shall I?"
"But, sir. King John needs you for tomorrow".
"Because he's got to go to a field in Windsor and put some sticky stuff onto some paper".
"Baldrick, what on earth are you trying to say?"
"Well, sir, the King is going to a field in Windsor to meet with some posh noblemen and to put some sticky stuff-"
"A seal?" inquired Blackadder.
"No, don't be silly, Your Lordship. Seals are the things from the sea. You'd never fit that onto a piece of paper. Anyway, he's putting some sticky stuff onto a piece of paper – um, a Magnet Cart".
"Magna Carta, Baldrick?"
"I've heard about this, Baldrick, and I'm not happy. Knowing I have to witness it myself makes me even madder. This Magna Carta is supposed to reduce the King's power. And I don't like that. King John is the most dishonest, cheating liar I have ever known".
"That's bad, isn't it, Your Lordship?" Blackadder hit Baldrick on the cheek again.
"No, it's good. King John is the mirror image of me. I like King John considerably more than you, Baldrick. And this Magna Carta will limit his power. That shouldn't happen. Well, Baldrick, get packing, you rancid wreck, we are off to Windsor. And bring your posh clothes and big stick. I have an idea..."
THE NEXT MORNING, THE FIELD, WINDSOR
"You sure you've got everything, Baldrick?" asked Blackadder.
"Yes, sir. The posh clothes-"
"And the big stick".
"Yeah, the Robes Baldrick and the Sceptre Baldrick".
"No, they're not called the Robes Baldrick and the Sceptre Baldrick. They're called robes, and a sceptre. I just put your name at the end of them".
"I don't understand, sir".
"Shall I hit you again, Baldrick?"
"Get changed then. And be on time. You know what to do".
"Look, it's Lord Melchettus and King John".
"Don't be silly Baldrick – oh god, it is! What's Melchettus doing here? Anyway, get ready. Good luck".
Baldrick retreated into a bush. Unfortunately, it was a rose bush. Blackadder walked over to the centre of the field, where around ten noblemen were gathered. King John, the King of England, stood nervously in his silver, elaborate robes. Lord Melchettus wore black and crimson robes which punctuated the green-ness of the field.
"Assembled noblemen, it is here on the 15th of June in the Year of Our Lord 1215, that we gather to witness the signing of the Magna Carta – the Great Charter which will limit the power of the King of England forever more," said Lord Melchettus ceremoniously.
"By bally, I can't write. How on earth will I sign this bloody charter?" whispered King John to Lord Melchettus.
"Use the sticky stuff, Your Highness".
"Oh right. Sorry about that".
Lord Melchettus resumed his speech. "As noblemen, our money, tax rates and land will be considerably safer than before. Therefore, it is presumed nobody here has any objections to the signing of this charter. If anybody does have any objections to this, please speak or forever hold your peace".
"God, this is more of a marriage between the King and the scroll than a signing, isn't it?" whispered Blackadder irritably. At this moment, Baldrick was supposed to enter in the posh robes with the big stick. Nothing happened.
"Anybody?" inquired Lord Melchettus.
"What's an objection?" asked King John to Lord Melchettus.
"It means if anybody does not want the charter to be signed," replied Melchettus.
Baldrick stumbled up to Melchettus, out of the rose bush, wearing the 'posh clothes' he had talked about, and holding the 'big stick' which was a sceptre. He looked remarkably like the Pope – which was the idea.
"I am the Pope," he said, "and I have an objection to the signing. King John does not need to put the sticky stuff on the paper, and that is why I say YES, I do have an objection".
"That's rubbish!" cried a nobleman.
"No it isn't!" piped up another.
"It is – he's not even the Pope!" spluttered another.
"Of course he is, can't you see?" roared another.
"This is war!" declared the first nobleman.
"Oh god, Baldrick. You do realise what you've done, don't you?" asked Blackadder.
"You've started a civil war..."
Lord Blackadder... ROWAN ATKINSON
Baldrick... TONY ROBINSON
Lord Melchettus... STEPHEN FRY
King John... HUGH LAURIE
HISTORICAL CONTEXT: The Magna Carta did mean 'Great Charter'. It was signed on 15 June 1215. And The Pope – the real one, not Baldrick – did complain that King John did not need to sign the Magna Carta, leading to a civil war in England which ended with King John's death in October 1216. However, the Pope was not present at the signing. Also, King John really couldn't write and sealed the Magna Carta instead. Thank you for reading.