The Black Bull of Clarence is a ‘Yorkist’ beast which came to The Queen through Edward IV, the first king of England from the House of York and one of the key players in the ‘Wars of the Roses’. Assisted by the Earl of Warwick who was known as the ‘kingmaker’, Edward took power from Henry VI, overturning a troubled Lancastrian rule. Henry VI fled to Scotland, but later briefly returned to the throne before he was finally defeated in battle by Edward in 1461. His execution at the Tower left no doubt over the new king’s reign. Edward IV is said to have often used the bull as a symbol, as did his brother, Richard III, the last York king. Edward’s original claim to the throne was as the great-grandson of Roger Mortimer, descendent of the Duke of Clarence, who Richard II had named as his successor but who was usurped by his nephew, Henry IV.
At The Queen’s coronation the Black Bull of Clarence held a shield with the Royal Arms as they were borne for more than 200 years, not only by the Yorkist kings but by the Lancastrians that went before and the Tudors who came after. The shield has two quarters with the gold lions of England, adopted by Richard I, and two with the golden lilies of France, added by Edward III to support his claim to the French throne.