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HOME   -   PEOPLE IN HISTORY A-Z   -   LADY GODIVA

 
   


Lady Godiva (around 1040-1080) - Photo of Maureen O'Hara

 

Lady Godiva (around 1040-1080)

Legend has it that upper-class lady Godgifu, aka Lady Godiva, rode through the city of Coventry in Warwickshire — in the nudes.

Image Above

Maureen O'Hara is Lady Godiva in the 1955 movie  Lady Godiva of Coventry.


Now, why would a lady do that?

Was she young and needed the money? And what did her husband Leofric had to say about that?

Leofric, by the way, was the Earl of Mercia. And here you can learn more about Mercia.


 

Who Brought Us Lady Godiva's Story?

Historian and secret lover of fiction  Roger of Wendover was the first to report on the fun ride.


In a nutshell, the tale goes like this:

Lady Godiva kept criticizing her husband Leofric for demanding heavy taxes which caused great hardship.

One day, Leofric came home from a night out with the boys, when Godiva started the nagging again. Leo, slightly hammered and not completely opposed to a little mischief, agreed to reduce taxes IF Godiva would ride through town without her clothes. And so she did, while letting her looong hair cover everything.


Roger the historian also reported that Godiva and Leofric founded a Benedictine monastery at Coventry. But at this point, Roger had already lost most of his audience to the day-dream of naked women on horses.


So everybody ran off with Roger's little yarn of Lady Godiva and added their own "historical" bits and pieces. Remember, those guys didn't have TV back then.


Eventually, Lady Godiva's tale started another tale — that of Peeping Tom.

Although nobody was allowed to look outside while Lady G was riding by, Tom couldn't help it.

As a punishment, and depending on the storyteller, all kinds of bad things happened to him. Some say that the little horndog got instantly zapped by lightning. Others were a tad less Puritan.


The most favored versions maintained that Godiva's hair covered absolutely everything.


Years and years later, in 1955, Maureen O'Hara found the perfect wig and was
Lady Godiva of Coventry.


Lady Godiva (Maureen O'Hara) 1040-1080
Maureen O'Hara Feeling the Breeze
Universal International


 

Lady Godiva Today

For the people of Coventry today, this semi-arousing folk tale is reason enough to let their collective hair down at the annual Godiva Festival.

You are welcome to join the craze. Here's the link.


 

And here are the maps:

England 1065
1065 England



1066 Battle of Hastings


Battle of Hastings 1066
1066 Battle of Hastings (USMA)

 

 

 

 

 

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