Thursday, 14 May 2020

Lady Godiva - English History

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 monastry. 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. Replies
    1. I agree. I like all chocolates.

      God bless, Bill.

  2. As an act of charity, I would not go nude. I remember when the nude calendars were all the rage several years back. I think it was not long after the film 'The Full Monty.' One these was a group of middle aged women gardening in the buff and for their parish. It was tastefully done, I suppose, as these things go. All in all, I did not find it terribly shocking.

    1. A reasoned well thought response, Deacon. Yes, I remember similar calendars here in the UK. Both male and female calendars for various good causes. Some to help medical research of terrible illnesses. I guess it takes a lot of courage, (peer persuasion), to take part in such ventures. But a lot of good money is raised as a result.

      It's great to see you visiting me here, Deacon. Thanx. This is mainly a Christian blog with a little/a lot of humour thrown in. We hope you visit us again soon and often.

      God bless you.

  3. I believe many people would give generously to charity for me to keep my clothes on.

  4. I never knew the story of Lady Godiva. Interesting. Question is, given your proclivity for sometimes stretching facts for humor, how much is accurate. I suspect all but Ivan Eyeful, and maybe the nagging.

    1. I have looked into my proclivity, JoeH. This time it tells me that most of it is correct - except:

      It is historically disputed whether this naked event happened or not.

      Godiva and husband existed and were very generous towards good causes and Christianity.

      She did insist on the building of monasteries - hence possible nagging.

      It is doubtful as to the peeping Tom story. But then, the whole event as I said is in doubt anyway.

      You are right as to Ivan Eyeful. He was called Ivor Hadenough.

      I have donated some money to a charity locally in honour of you keeping your clothes on.

      God bless, JoeH.

  5. I would never, ever consider riding a horse naked to get my husband to lower the taxes because people would beg my husband to raise their taxes higher just to get me off that horse and put my clothes back on!!!

    God's Blessings Victor 💮

  6. Great fun reply, Jan. In the UK there was (still is) a trend for nude calendars in aid of various charities.

    God bless you my friend.

  7. I never knew the story of Lady Godiva! Interesting.
    No, I wouldn't ride a horse naked anywhere not even for charity.

    1. Apparently, Lady Godiva existed, although the story is doubtful.

      God bless, Happyone.

  8. Never been on a horse before, never mind going for a ride in the birthday suit.:) So that is where Peeping Tom came from. :)

    1. That's what they say, Bill. The expression Peeping Tom may have originated from that story; although the story itself, or the existence of Tom may not be true.

      God bless you always.

  9. No, Victor, I wouldn't do that, though I do admire Lady G. for her brazen bravery, that is, if it's true! :)

    1. Not sure if it's true, Martha. Pity no one filmed or photographed it at the time.

      God bless. Keep smiling.

  10. Absolutely not! I never considered where the term, "Peeping Tom" came from ... makes sense! Struck blind? Hmmmmm….

    1. She probably threw something at Peeping Tom. I wonder what it was considering she was naked and had nothing on her.

      God bless, Mevely.

  11. I fear I would not have the courage to ride unveiled through the town. And I did not know the origin of the term "Peeping Tom." Thank you for this most enlightening post. It was enjoyed, whether it be true or fantasy.


    1. It's one of the stories in Britain's old history, Cathy. Some probably true, like the couple's generosity; other parts probably fantasy.

      God bless you always.

  12. You asked "If the cause is one that is very dear to your heart; would you go nude for charity?"
    My reply "No"

    For me personally I prefer to help charities raise money with my clothes on!

    Another interesting post though Victor :)

    All the best Jan

    1. I wonder, Jan, how much of the Godiva story is really true. Did she really care that much for the people of Coventry?

      Thanx again for your visit here. God bless always.

  13. While i have no trouble with nudes in art, i do not think i could do it.



God bless you.