Tuesday, 29 April 2014

History - Lady Godiva

It is perhaps unfair that Lady Godiva is best remembered for one act which historians dispute whether it actually happened or not. But that's the way of the world isn't it? You do just one thing and everyone is talking about it for ever on end. But more of that later.

Lady Godiva, was an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who lived in Britain all that time ago. She was the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia and they had a son called Aelfgar. (I suppose when you're rich and famous you can name your children what you want. Personally, I prefer "Hey You" as a name; but I digress).

Both Lady Godiva and her husband Leofric were very generous benefactors to religious houses. (Can you imagine being called Leofric? O Leofric, Leofric! Wherefore art thou Leofric? Doesn't sound right does it? But I digress once again. OK ... let's concentrate now and get on with the story).

As I was saying, they were both very generous and in 1043 Leofric founded and endowed a Benedictine Monastry in Coventry, England. Apparently Godiva was the persuasive force behind this generosity and she moaned and moaned "Leofric, build me a monastery. Leofric, build me a monastry ..." until he gave up and built her a monastry.

You know how persuasive women can be when they want something?

They go on and on and on ... clear the footpath of snow, don't forget to mow the lawn, the house needs re-painting, have you taken the trash bins out? Ehm ... sorry ... my mind was wandering a bit there ... thinking aloud what?

Well, at least I've never been asked to build a monastry. I suppose clearing the footpath is better and cheaper than having to build a monastry. Although I must admit, if it was a choice between visiting the mother-in-law and building a monastry, I would build a monastry any day. It is less stressful with much less moaning on and on in stereo !!!

But I digress yet again. Stop interrupting me!

In 1050 the couple also gave land for the St Mary's Monastry in Worcester and for the minster in Stow St Mary in Lincolnshire.They are also benefactors of other monasteries in Leominster, Chester, Much Wenlock and Evesham.

Lady Godiva also gave a lot of jewellery and precious metals to various causes over her lifetime.

So all in all, she was an all round good egg as we normally say; and the sort of person you would like to meet and befriend. Especially if you're short of a penny or two.

Until we come to the legend of what she once did, (or did not do, depending on who you believe). 

It seems that Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry who were paying too much taxes imposed by her husband on the town. She appealed to her husband to lower the taxes and moaned and moaned for days on end "Please lower the taxes ... Please lower the taxes ... Please ... Pretty Please ..." You know how women go on and on when they want something? Have I mentioned that to you?  

Well this time Leofric would not listen. But she went on and on about lowering the taxes. Eventually, to shut her up, (he must have had a terrible headache poor soul), he said "I'll lower the taxes if you strip naked and ride a horse through the streets of Coventry!"

To his surprise she agreed. Now that's dedication for you. Would any of us go to such lengths for our fellow man? (Don't answer that).

Lady Godiva issued a proclamation that on a certain day everyone should remain indoors and shut all their windows because she was going to ride naked on a horse throughout town. (I wonder how many horses volunteered for the job).

Now how naive is that? Did she really expect everyone to stay indoors after such an announcement? Would you?

Are you really telling me that NO ONE was tempted to take a photo with their cell-phones and post it on Facebook?

On the day in question Lady Godiva rode naked on a horse and paraded throughout town.

But a tailor called Tom succumbed to temptation. He made a small hole in his window shutters and had a good look at what he should not have been looking at. And that's where the name Peeping Tom originates from.

Apparently he was struck blind after the event.

His friend Ivan Eyeful was wiser and more cautious because he chanced one eye through his peep hole.

Anyway, believe it or not, her husband kept his word and abolished the taxes.

Now why can't the wives of our politicians do the same thing and lower our taxes?

As I said, the veracity of this story is hotly disputed amongst historians.

But it raises an important question:

Assuming that Lady Godiva did as it is said in order to help the poor people of Coventry; is it OK to strip naked for a good cause? To help one's fellow man?

There are many instances of men and women being photographed nude for calendars which are then sold to raise a lot of money for a charitable cause.

Is this a good (fun) thing to do to help others; or is it wrong? Especially when we consider the amount of money that can, and has, been raised this way for causes like medical research, helping the elderly, ease starvation and so on.

If the cause is one that is very dear to your heart; would you go nude for charity?


  1. Hi Victor! I think I'd go naked for a cause if everyone doesn't mind going blind because of it... Well, actually, just my considering it would probably cause crossed-eyes anyway. So I think I'll just stick to writing a check.

    I hope I am not nagging my husband too much, I'll go ask him. Again. He never listens to me!! LOL :)
    Fun post today!

    1. Thank you Ceil for writing in. I know a lot of money (in the UK) has been raised with nude calenders (both men and women).

      As for nagging ... I'll have to excuse myself. No more blogging for now. The lawn needs mowing, AGAIN. I mean ... I already did it last year; why do I have to do it yet again?

      God bless.

  2. Thank you again for educating in a funny kind of way and fact is that I'm under the weather right now so I will keep my silly thoughts to myself.

    I hear YA! There are still some spiritual reality cells who can slow you down somewhat Victor? (lol)

    God Bless

    1. Praying you get better soon. Look after yourself.

      God bless.

  3. Thank you for the Lady Godiva story, Victor :) I googled Lady Godiva after I read your story last night and once again found that most of your facts were true. History is sometimes more interesting than fairy tales I see! Don't you think Lady Godiva would have been better off NOT warning people to stay inside? I mean, you know how human nature is! That's like asking people to peek! Funny!

    I wasn't aware that this was where the term "peeping tom" came from...lol.

    1. Yes Mary. Most of the facts in this story are true; including the peeping Tom origins. Unfortunately, I do not have the name of the horse who carried her. Perhaps it was "Lucky".

      You're right. How naive to tell everyone to remain indoors. It's a shame no one thought of videoing the event.

      God bless.



God bless you.