Lady Godiva Legendary Ride
Lady Godiva on Ride
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 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.
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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