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Lady Godiva Legendary Ride

Updated on May 23, 2018
Pamela99 profile image

I am interested in politics and in the news. It is great to be informed about what is happening in the USA, around the world and history.

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.

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.

“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 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.

The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.


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  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Glen, I did not know about the gifting. That is so interestng. I happened to read about her just before I decided to write this article and thought the legend of her ride was fascinating. I appreciate your comments.

  • Glenis Rix profile image


    7 months ago from UK

    I was drawn to your article because Lady Godiva owned the castle in my home town in Nottinghamshire. She gifted it to the Bishop of Lincoln who later made improvements. I enjoyed your reminder of her story.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ann, Going to college in Coventry probably gives you a clearer view of what happened so many years ago. I certainly appreciate your comments, and I am glad you enjoyed reading about this legend.

  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 

    7 months ago from SW England

    I have known about this legend for some time as I went to college of education in Coventry. It's a great story and she was daring to take up her husband's challenge, obviously because she was determined to protect the poor of the city.

    Coventry is not known as a particularly great city but I love the 'new' cathedral built in the grounds of the old; the juxtaposition of them is dramatic.

    Thanks for the reminder of this story and lots of detail of which I wasn't aware.


  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 years ago from Sunny Florida

    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.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 

    5 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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

    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

    Maria Jordan 

    5 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 imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    5 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 imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

    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.

  • quildon profile image

    Angela Joseph 

    5 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.

  • Springboard profile image


    5 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 did he go blind I wonder?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • breakfastpop profile image


    5 years ago

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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    5 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.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    5 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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • Genna East profile image

    Genna East 

    5 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. :-)

  • Rev. Akins profile image

    Rev. Akins 

    5 years ago from Tucson, AZ

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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 

    5 years ago from The Beautiful South

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

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    5 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..

  • Ruchira profile image


    5 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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

    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.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 

    5 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".

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 

    5 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!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    5 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.

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 

    5 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.


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