January 4, 2015

ALL OUR MYTHS ARE ABOUT TAX FAIRNESS:

An Anglo-Saxon Tale: Lady Godiva : The story of Lady Godiva is an enduring one - find out here the facts about her that are known to be true, alongside the tale that has been handed down through the years. (BBC)

So what is the truth behind the story of Lady Godiva's ride through Coventry? Why would a lady of great standing in the town do such a thing? The legend has been handed down over many years, so the line between fact and fiction has become more than a little blurred.

The earliest surviving source for the legend is the Chronica of Roger of Wendover for the year 1057. He wrote that Godiva pleaded with her husband to relieve the heavy burden of taxes he had imposed on the citizens of Coventry.

Weary of her persistence, Leofric said he would grant her request if she would ride naked through the town.

The rest of the story is not documented at all, but it is said that so great was her compassion for the people of Coventry that Godiva overcame her horror of doing this. She ordered the people to remain indoors with their windows and doors barred. Loosening her long hair to cover her as a cloak, she mounted her waiting horse.

Then she rode through the silent streets unseen by the people, who had obeyed her command because of their respect for her.

Only one man, called Tom, was unable to resist the temptation to peep at the Countess (hence the term 'Peeping Tom'). He unbarred his window, but before he could satisfy his gaze he was struck blind.

Her ordeal completed, Godiva returned to her husband, who fulfilled his promise to abolish the heavy taxes. According to Ranulf Higden's Polychronicon, Leofric freed the town from all tolls save those on horses. An inquiry made in the reign of Edward I shows that indeed, at that time, no tolls were paid in Coventry except on horses.

Robin Hood tells the same sort of story.
Posted by at January 4, 2015 9:41 AM
  

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