Lady Godiva

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Lady Godiva by John Collier, ca 1897

Lady Godiva (Old English: Godgifu; about 980 – 1067)[1][2] was an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman. She was married to Earl Leofric and frequently donated to the church, and was highly religious.[3] There are legends that say that she rode naked through the streets of Coventry in England.

Legend[change | change source]

Lady Godiva was the wife of Earl Leofric of Mercia. The Earl’s taxes were very high, and people in Coventry was very upset about it. Lady Godiva begged her husband to lower the taxes many times, but he never agreed to. Finally, the Earl told Lady Godiva that if she rode through the streets completely naked, he would lower the taxes. Lady Godiva sent a message through town that told everyone to close their shutters and stay indoors. Then, she rode through town only clothed by her hair. The Earl gave in and lowered the taxes of the town. However, a tailor named Tom drilled a hole through his shutters, and caught a glimpse of Lady Godiva. He was struck blind, some think from heaven, and some think the town “took care of him” themselves. This is where the phrase “Peeping Tom” for a voyeur comes from. There were many celebrations to remember Lady Godiva’s courage. Peeping Tom was added to the story in the 17th century. [4]

References[change | change source]

  1. Roy Palmer (1976) The Folklore of Warwickshire: 134
  2. "The Historical Godiva", Octavia Randolph
  3. Bardsley, Sandy. "Power of Queens and Noblewomen: Medieval World." Daily Life through History. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
  4. Griffiths, Ralph A. "Godiva, Lady." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

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