Interview with Lady Godiva
The Ride of Lady Godiva
Listen, my friends, no secrets will I dare to hide.
About our dear Lady Godiva’s very strange ride.
With the now supernatural interviewing skills I’ve saved,
I was able to interview Godiva straight from the grave.
There was one important question I wanted to pose,
You know what it is, You hit it right on the nose.
Did Lady Godiva ride a horse wearing only a smile?
(Lady Godiva that is, not the horse.)
Yes, she did and it was a very difficult trial,
For the Lady, not the horse, of course.
me – Good day, my lady, you look ravishing.
Godiva – I threw this on; it’s not a lavish thing.
me – Tell me about this strange event,
The ride you rode and how far you went.
But first, let’s have personal information,
About you, your hubby and other relations.
Godiva – I was born between 1000 and 1020.
Record keepers then needed help aplenty.
My name originally was spelled Godgifu.
I prefer the English Godiva instead, don’t you?
Godiva and other Gourmet Chocolate
me – Absolutely, what does the name mean, pray tell?
Godiva – It means ‘God’s gift” - isn’t that swell?
For gourmet chocolate, Godiva became a wonderful name.
Would you buy Godgifu chocolate – that name is so lame.
me – Tell me more about your family life.
And when did you become a wife?
Godiva – My father, Earl of Lincolnshire, was a nobleman and wealthy.
My brother, Thorold, and I grew up cherished and healthy.
I was married when young but my first husband died.
Then I met Leofric, Earl of Mercia, and became his bride.
He owned so much land including Southern Buckinghamshire,
Cheshire and Gloucestershire and Herefordshire,
Oxfordshire and Shropshire and Staffordshire,
Warwickshire and Worcestershire – many acres to be sure.
He became wealthy as a landowner and from sheep he raised.
They called it mutton which we ate every day, broiled or braised.
There were sheep here, sheep there, sheep all over the place.
To this day, I can't look a rack of lamb in the face.
We moved to Coventry for the quiet country life,
And I looked for ways to become a more religious wife.
You know “being sent to Coventry” means being banished.
It was so quiet there I felt that from life I had vanished.
I was used to being a patron of the arts and equestrienne.
I rode my horse everywhere – I was seldom a pedestrian.
While Leofric was tending to various business pursuits,
I was riding with the local folks discussing local disputes.
One that concerned us was the lack of proper facilities,
For housing and training those with religious bent and abilities.
So I persuaded Leofric to build and fund a local village abbey,
A simple structure, the largest around, and far from being shabby.
This building also became the center of village social activity
As well as a haven for those who sought religious tranquility.
Leofric, was admired for his philanthropy, and monetary gumption,
So soon he was named in charge of the village’ taxing function.
Maureen O'Hara as Lady Godiva of Coventry
Alyssa Milano as Lady Godiva in "Charmed" TV show
Godiva - The village people didn’t realize the extent of my hubby’s mode,
He soon began taxing every person and every horse they rode.
He taxed the land, the people, the farms, even a tax on manure.
But he didn’t realize that the Coventry folk were very, very poor.
me – Did you try to get your husband’s explanation?
Did you explain to him the poverty-level situation?
Godiva – I did my best but he laughed so hard he fell off his chair.
He made me so angry I was tempted to shout and swear.
He insisted my well-meant social experiment,
Could only result in his financial detriment.
I pleaded, I begged, I argued. I was overly dramatic.
It was a war of wills; he thought me a religious fanatic.
me – What happened, I pray
What did hubby say?
Godiva – Because of my argument and the manner in which I insisted,
He’d waive all taxes except on horses which already existed.
What was the challenge my sweet husband imposed?
I ride my horse through Coventry without any clothes.
me – Was he serious?
Or just delirious?
Godiva – I think he was upset and angry and plotted revenge,
Believing I would never accept his ‘naked’ challenge.
I made up my mind that nothing would stand in my way,
I would ride through the streets naked during the midday.
me – Did he try to dissuade you?
Deter or degrade you?
Godiva – No, he knew the strength of my will,
As well as my equestrian skill.
He finally gave me his permissions,
To perform the ride on three conditions.
me – What were the conditions that were imposed,
As you rode your steed while completely exposed?
Godiva – The villagers were told to remain inside,
With all their shutters closed during my ride.
I was to ride my horse through the main street during the noonday.
I mounted and loosened my beautiful long hair all the way.
My long shapely legs were exposed but little else during my ride,
On sidesaddle, I saw a placard that read, “Hurray for our side.”
My husband, the Earl, to his promise was true.
He removed the taxes as he said he would do.
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me – I have to ask you, Godiva, as a woman deeply religious,
Why would you ride in a manner some say egregious?
Godiva – As spoken by emperors, by kings and by queens,
It is said that 'the end often justifies the means'!
Coventry now has an official Lady Godiva employed by the city council and the town presents annual Lady Godiva festivals and pageants. Signage, souvenirs and knickknacks are available everywhere.
Godiva Chocolatier was founded 80 years ago in Brussels, Belgium when master chocolatier Joseph Draps founded a chocolate company that was named in honor of the legend of Lady Godiva. Why Godiva? Because her name embodied the timeless qualities of passion, style, sensuality and modern boldness.
Note: The tale of "Peeping Tom", who was struck blind (or dead) when he alone gazed upon Lady Godiva was not added until the 17th century – six centuries later.
Sources: Stenton, Sir Frank. Anglo Saxon England. Oxford 1971. Tosh, John. The Pursuit of History. Longman 2nd edition 1991. Whitelock, D. The Beginnings of English Society/ Penguin Books 1952. William of Malmsbury. Gesta Regum Anglorum The History of the English Kings. Volume 11.Clarendon Press, Oxford 1999
© Copyright BJ Rakow 2011. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."