Lady Godiva Legendary Ride

Lady Godiva on Ride

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Lady Godiva’s Daring Ride

Lady Godiva is well-known for her daring nude ride through the streets of Coventry in in the 11-century. This strong-willed noblewoman was quite willing to go to great lengths to make her husband treat their tenants fairly. This Anglo-Saxon lady was married to Leofric, Earl of Mercia, who over-taxed his tenants, despite the pleas of his wife.

Generous Benefactors to Monasteries and Cathedrals

Leofric and Godiva were generous benefactors to the Benedictine monastery and other religious houses. For instance, in 1043 Leofric founded a Benedictine monastery at Coventry on the site of a nunnery that was destroyed by the Danes in 1016. This couple were benefactors to several other monasteries. In addition, Lady Godiva gave several works of precious metals for this person, and she bequeathed a necklace to be placed a figure of the Virgin Mary that was valued at 100 marks of silver.

Family History

Godiva is also spelled Godgifu or Godgfu in various accounts of history, which means “gift of God.” She was a widow when she married Leofric,and they had one proved son, named Aelgar, Earl of Mercia. Her name appears in the history of Ely Abbey, which was written at the end of the 12 century. There are various accounts of her historic ride. Apparently Leofric was more interesting in spending his money on the cathedrals than he was in helping his tenants.

Coventry, England

Leofric Gives In

Finally, Leofric became tired of Lady Godiva requests, so he told her if she would strip naked and ride through of the streets of the town he would grant her request. A proclamation that was requested by Lady Godiva was issued. The people must stay indoors and shut their windows as she rode through the town, only covered by her long hair.

English History - Lady Godiva

Great Tales from English History: The Truth About King Arthur, Lady Godiva, Richard the Lionheart, and More
Great Tales from English History: The Truth About King Arthur, Lady Godiva, Richard the Lionheart, and More

With insight, humor and fascinating detail, Lacey brings brilliantly to life the stories that made England--from Ethelred the Unready to Richard the Lionheart, the Venerable Bede to Piers the Ploughman.

 

“Peeping Time”

According to the legend, there was one man, who was a tailor, that made a hole in his shutters, so he might see Lady Godiva. His name is Tom and that is where the term “Peeking Tom” began. He was struck blind after he viewed the Lady. Leo Fricke’s word and abolish the onerous taxes. Several accounts of Peeping Capcom have also been written over the centuries.

This is certainly one of the most famous stories of voyeurism. There are many other accounts of this legend and some historians believe there are elements of pagan fertility rituals in these stories.

Leofric died before Lady Godiva, and she lived on until sometime between the Norman Conquest of 1066 and 1086. The Doomsday survey list her as one of the few Anglo-Saxons, and the only woman who remained a major landholder after the conquest.

Lady Godiva Statue

Godiva_statue_Broadgate_Oct_2011
Godiva_statue_Broadgate_Oct_2011

Lady Godiva Exalted

Lady Godiva and Wilviva (thought to be her sister) are represented in a 20th century glass window at the cathedral in Hereford for their work before the Norman Conquest. There is also a window representing Leofric and Godiva at the Trinity Church Coventry.

The legend of Lady Godiva’s ride was recorded for the first time in the 13th century, in the “Flores Historiarum" by Roger of Wendover. According to the story, Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry who lived under her husband’s oppressive taxation. She appealed to her husband numerous times and achieved the victory she desired.

There was a movie made in 1955 and stared Maureen O’Hara; however, the movie does follow the legend very closely.

Lineage Societies

Lineage societies are quite popular today, as many people enjoy researching their ancestry. Some are very well-known like the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and The Mayflower Society. Others are quite rare or new, but they typically represent wars, famous people in history or sometimes a type of occupation will have a society. One unusual example is the Descendants of Whaling Masters. There is a new society forming that will include Descendants of Lady Godiva, as she was royalty and for her daring ride through Coventry.

Some societies meet monthly except for the summer months, and others meat four times the year or sometimes just once a year. They usually involve a business meeting, a speaker whose topic is history, and a luncheon.

In Conclusion

The story of Lady Godiva is certainly unique and historians generally agree that this event did occur. As for all the details, they may vary in their accounts of this legend. She certainly was a daring woman willing to go to great lengths for the common man. Undoubtedly, the people that lived in Coventry must have rejoiced when those onerous taxes were lifted.

© 2014 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 33 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Wonderful hub telling the story of Lady Godiva. Though it has been told many times it will always hold appeal and is one of the best loved historic tales. You told it very well Pamela.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Well I hate to admit this, but I had no idea she was a real person; I just thought this was a myth. LOL Thanks for the history lesson.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

I can clearly see myself in Lady Godiva. The wonder of this - she had the peace of mind to grab the opportunity to make her statement in favour of her husband's tenants. Her life was not at stake. Imagine this scenario in a country like Saudi Arabia?

I have my doubts about the peeping Tom. If he was indeed blind after seeing the lady naked on her horse, he must have fell over his own feet with his eyes in the fire. Lol!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida

I was unaware of the reasoning behind Lady Godiva's famous ride. It's wonderful what she was willing to do for "the people".


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Jodah, I am glad you enjoyed hearing this story once again. Thank you for your comments.

Billy, Not only is she real, but my ancestry traces back to her. However, this is recent news to me. I appreciate the comments.

Martie, Comparing this story to Saudi Arabia is certainly something to ponder. I doubt that Tom immediately sticken blind, but it adds to the legend I guess. I appreciate your comments.

Shauna, I love the story for that reason. Thanks for your comments.


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 2 years ago from United States

wow such a magnificent history behind it. i had heard of her but did not know about her heroisms.

sharing across


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

Lady Godiva is my kind of woman, ( not that i would ride a horse naked. ) lol..The peeping Tom bit was new to me, funny how words are derived from long ago. Thank you much. Enjoyed..


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

I didn't know she was real! Learn something new everyday. Great article; voting up and sharing.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Richira, This is a uniqute story and I am glad you enjoyed it. I appreciate the comments and the share.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Ruby, Yes, I admire her also.I am glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Jackie, I think many people did not know she was real. I am glad you enjoyed the hub, and I appreciate your comments.


Rev. Akins profile image

Rev. Akins 2 years ago from Tucson, AZ

Interesting hub, I liked the way you explained it and the format. Really enjoyed reading it, thanks!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

I enjoyed this hub, and learning who the daring “Lady Godiva” actually was. “Peeking Tom,” was another interesting revelation. Well written presentation! Voted up and shared. :-)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Rev. Akins, Thank you for your kind comments. I am glad you enjoyed the hub.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Genna, I am glad you enjoyed the hub. I appreciate the comments and the share. I hope you have a good weekend.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Hi Pamela, I love the story of Lady Godiva, and want to shout, go girl! every time I read about her! lol! what a woman, and she certainly proved her point, great telling of the story! voted up and shared, nell


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is an interesting hub, Pamela. I knew that Lady Godiva was a real person, but I've learned more about her by reading your article. Thanks for the information.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Nell Rose, I love this story also. Thanks so much for your comments and the share.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

AliciaC, I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Thank you for your comments.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 2 years ago

You always add something to topics I have a smidgen of info about. Voted up, interesting and awesome.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Pop, I'm glad that is true as I hope it makes the topics more interesting. I always appreciate your comments.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 2 years ago from Wisconsin

It's funny because my Mom always used the phrase, "Wow, she thinks's she Lady Godiva," and despite always hearing that, not sure why I never thought to learn exactly what she was referring to. This was a very interesting article. And who knew that both Peeking Tom (although I have always heard it as peeping) was associated with Godiva? I never put the two together. I probably would have been guilty of having a peek though...how did he go blind I wonder?


quildon profile image

quildon 2 years ago from Florida

Pamela, thanks for this informative hub. All I knew of Lady Godiva is the chocolate, which I love. Now I know the story behind it.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Springboard,, It is good to hear from you and I am glad you enjoyed the hub. Tom going blind is the only part of this story I question. Perhaps he really went blind over a period of time. Regardless, this all happened over 1000 years ago and I think we have all the basic details right of this true story. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

quildon, That chocolate is delicious! I'm glad you now know the whole story. I apprecciate your comments.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

I have heard of this lady before but didn't know the story behind it. I thought it was a Greek myth. I thank you for the creative lesson today!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Diana, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and appreciate your comments.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Pamela,

This was a fascinating read of a figure I have long admired, but also had never known the backstory. Sometimes a gentleman should be careful what he asks for...and bravo to the Lady for her convictions.

I also love Godiva's sister's name in 'Wilviva'.

Can you tell me the name of the 1955 movie? I love classic movies and this looks like a great flick to check out.

Your passion for ancestry comes through loud and clear and your writing style makes me feel that excitement as well. Excellent writing. Voted UP and UABI. Love, Maria


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Maria, The movie is Lady Godiva of Coventry, staring Maureen O'Har. The information I read stated it was not totally accurate, but it still may be enjoyable to view. I do love ancestry and history. I am glad you enjoyed this hub and appreciate your very kind comments.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Thanks, Pamela, I will enjoy checking this movie out as I have time!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Maria, Let me know if you see the movie as I am interested. Thanks.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida

How interesting, Pamela.

I truthfully did not know the history or the legend....just smile each time I see Godiva chocolate.

Strong women are all throughout history, as we know.

Angels are on the way to you ...ps


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Patricia, I think many did not know whether this was true or a legend. I appreciate your comments and the angels. I am sending some back to you this morning also.

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