Lady Godiva (legend)

   Lady Godiva (1040-1080) was a heroine of English legend, was the wife of Leofric, earl of Mercia and lord of Coventry. According to tradition, when she asked her husband to reduce the excessive taxes of the people of Coventry he agreed to do so but imposed the condition that she would ride naked through the streets of the town. She accepted the challenge and rode through Coventry, clad only in her long hair, after commanding all the citizens to remain in their homes, with doors and shutters closed, throughout the day. The first account of the story is found in the Flares historiamm of Roger of Wendover (d. 1237). Later, anonymous balladists added miraculous incidents to the legend. The story of "Peeping Tom," the one citizen who spied upon Lady Godiva and who was immediately struck blind, was first reported by Paul de Rapin in his Histoire d'Angleterre (1723). There are literary versions of the story by Drayton, Leigh Hunt, and Tennyson. In commemoration of the legend a Godiva procession was made a triennial feature of the Coventry fairs from 1678 to 1826 and has been revived intermittently in modern times.