Lady Godiva (4/5)

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In history, Lady Godiva was an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman whose life was relatively well-documented, as well as her financial contributions to the establishment of several churches and monasteries around the country. However, in British folklore, she is now remembered for a legend in which she rode naked on horseback through the streets of Coventry in order to oppose a harsh tax that her husband had placed upon the Church. In fact, the origin of the “Peeping Tom” term originates from this story, in which a man named Thomas is said to have paid keen attention to her ride, and for his sinful lust was struck blind by God! Unfortunately, historians believe that the story most likely did not happen or, at least not in the way that it is often told for numerous reasons. One such reason is that during the reign of the Anglo-Saxons, woman landowners were commonplace and it would have been in Godiva’s authority as much as her husband’s to have lifted the taxes oppressing the townspeople. However, in Norman society, which is where the fable was first recorded, it would have been unheard of for a woman to own land or be in any position to change laws. Therefore, it is believed that the story was likely concocted or misinterpreted by Norman chroniclers.

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