353: Lady Godiva, Countess of Mercia
Legendary Defender of the Poor
Born: c.980, Mercia, Coventry, England (Present-day United Kingdom)
Died: c.1067, Mercia, Coventry, England (Present-day United Kingdom)
Also Known As: Godgifu
According to legend, Godiva was incensed at her husband increasing the taxes against the people he ruled over and so she openly complained. Her husband reportedly said he would lower the taxes if she rode through town naked; so she did.
Her story is also, purportedly, the origin of “Peeping Tom” because she asked for no one to look at her and yet Tom did and was struck blind.
The real facts about her do recount her generosity towards her people and that she and her husband helped found a Benedictine Monastery in Coventry, where they were later buried. Today, no trace of the monastery or their graves survive.
Godiva was one of the few women of her time to own land independently in England—but there is no historical proof to back up her naked ride through town, and no, she wasn’t a chocolatier either.
Godiva's story is recounted on an episode of Monumental Mysteries titled "Lady Godiva & The Peeping Tom, Bishop's Brain, Birds of a Feather."
Find a Grave Marked
Located In My Personal Library:
Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines by Patricia Monaghan PhD