A 900-year-old legend speaks of the Lady Godiva, who sacrificed her own dignity in front of the entire town, in an effort to lower the taxes imposed on its citizens.
The noblewoman is believed to have been an aristocrat living during the 9th century. She wed the powerful lord of Coventry - Leofric. Unlike the other noblewomen however, she did not just sit around in her castle, she also took walks among the commoners.
She witnessed for herself how the high taxes imposed by her husband forced the people to live in a constant state of scarcity. Gathering her courage, she asked the lord to lower his taxes on the common folk.
Leofric became infuriated by the bold act of his wife and decided to punish her by embarrassing her before the very town she sought justice for.
The lord offered her a deal, saying that he would lower taxes if she rode naked on a horse through all of Coventry.
Determined to help the people, she took off her clothes, got up on her horse and rode out in the town, as naked as the day she was born and covered only by her long hair.
Before she began her tour of the town, those who were close to Lady Godiva told the locals about what she was planning on doing for their good, warning them not to leave their homes.
Only a man named Tom was unable to keep a hold of his curiosity and peered through the window at the naked lady. According to the legend, he was blinded in that same instant, thus birthing the legend of the Peeping Tom.
The noblewoman completed her procession throughout the whole town, her husband kept his word and lowered the taxes.
Many historians believe the legend to be completely made up, although there really was a Lady Godiva, even if she did not actually ride around naked through the town. She was known for her generosity toward the people and for founding the Benedictine Monastery in Coventry.
She was also one of the few women at the time to own land.
The legend of her deed was passed on orally, with the only written account attributed to the English monk Roger of Wendover, who also authored other legends popular during his time.See more