Ever ask yourself who was Lady Godiva, the woman on the box of chocolate? Interesting enough, neither have I. But I ran across her in some research and thought you might enjoy knowing who this naked woman was.
|Lady Godiva by John Collier, c. 1897|
Let me start by saying Lady Godiva (some sources refer to her as Godgifu) was a real person who lived in the 11th century. She was a noblewoman of Anglo-Saxon descent, married to the powerful Earl of Mercia, and Lord of Coventry, Leofric. Lady Godiva was known to be a very generous person and also a landed lady who gave freely to the church. Husband and wife built the Benedictine monastery in Coventry in the same spot the Danes had destroyed a nunnery in 1016. Lady Godiva is said to have been the driving force behind this monastery. Leofric and Lady Godiva are credited as being benefactors to at least five other monasteries.
|19th century statue of the legendary ride, by John Thomas.|
Lady Godiva was one of the founders and earliest rulers of Coventry. The Benedictine monastery they founded overlooked the River Sowe and the town of Coventry grew up around it. She gave Coventry several fine metal works as well as bequeathed a necklace valued at 100 marks. Another necklace was given to Evesham, to be hung around the Virgin Mary's neck, along with a life size crucifix (rood) made from Gold and Silver. Another generous contribution was to to St. Paul's Cathedral in London, where they donated a gold fringed chasuble (outer most robe worn by the priests).
With the Norman conquest, many of those gifts were eventually carried off to Normandy or melted down for bullion.
Now, with the history lesson behind us... What ever prompted Lady Godiva to ride her horse naked through Coventry? The truth is this is most likely a myth. The first mention of a naked Lady Godiva was nearly two centuries later and told by Roger of Wendover who was known for his exaggerations.
|Lady Godiva:Edmund Blair Leighton--One of my favorite painters!|
So what was the story he told? The story goes like this... Leofric had placed heavy taxes on the citizens of Coventry giving them a crippling burden. Lady Godiva couldn't bare to watch the people suffer and continually asked her husband to lower the burden on the people of Coventry. He refused over and over. Tiring of her repeated pleading, he threw out a challenge, knowing she would never follow through--he'd lower the taxes if she rode naked on a horse's back through the center of town. Lady Godiva, being the kind and generous person she was took her husband up on his bluff. She first sent word to all the people of Coventry to go into their houses, close their windows and not look. She removed all her clothing and climbed atop her horse, using only her hair to cover herself. She then rode through the town. As she passed Tom's tailor shop, he peeked out the window to watch her ride by and was struck by blindness. When she returned to her home she confronted her husband and demanded he uphold his end of the bargain. Leofric did stand behind his words and lowered the tax burden on the people of Coventry. Leofric may not be remembered today but Tom on the other hand will be. He is forever known as peeping Tom. There is a statue of peeping Tom at Cathedral Lanes Shopping Center.
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Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old.She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children’s director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, She and her husband enjoy camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses. Visit Debbie Lynne at www.debbielynnecostello.com, www.theswordandspirit.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/debbielynnecostello , https://plus.google.com/+DebbieLynneCostello/posts, and https://twitter.com/DebiLynCostello
Thanks to Wiki for all Lady Godiva pictures.