Origins of cock and bull

I’m going to try and pin it on John of Bridlington’s rapidly disproven prophecy of a cock and bull and Anglo-French relations.

The Straight Dope has a variety of theories, none completely convincing. So … I wonder whether it wasn’t born with the Prophecy of John of Bridlington, a Latin poem presumably written in the mid-1360s (here it is, in Thomas Wright, Political Poems and Songs Relating to English History (1859)) whose third part tells how the Black Prince, King of England, accedes to the French throne.

Edward of Woodstock is represented here as a cock – as Suetonius noted with glee, gallus is rooster and Gaul, and EofW spent much of his life in or at war with France – while his father Edward III is taurus, the bull. And, of course, he died before his father and so never became king of anything, however inevitable this may have seemed a few years earlier when the author of the prophecy was at work.

This and other animal-played prophecies, which look back to the Book of Merlin, dropped somewhat out of fashion in the early 15th century. Was it “John of Bridlington”‘s cock and bull story that gave them a bad name?

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