WOMEN OF HISTORY: Lady Godiva (990 - 1067 AD)
Play • 7 min

The legend of Lady Godiva (~990-1067) says that this aristocratic, land owning woman stood up to her husband about his over-taxation of the people of Coventry. And despite her continued assertions that he was oppressing his people, he saw her as a nag and basically tried to get her to leave him alone by Triple Dog Daring her to do something she would never actually follow through with… riding her horse naked through town.


Covered by nothing but her long hair, Lady Godiva allegedly rode through town. Rumor has it that she ordered everyone to stay inside with their doors and windows closed, but she did it nonetheless, to prove him wrong and to get her way.


The story is compelling, because it indicates that there should be more shame and embarrassment about a woman’s naked body than about over-taxing and oppressing people. 


Historians dispute any evidence that this story actually happened, but Lady Godiva really was a philanthropic and charitable aristocrat who also happened to be the only documented woman to be a major landholder of her time. And regardless of whether the rest of her legend is true, her story has been immortalized in folklore, literature, pop culture references, and art for hundreds of years.

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