Godiva, Lady gōdī´və [key], fl. c.1040–80, wife of Leofric, earl of Mercia; famous for her legendary ride through the city of Coventry. She was a benefactor of several monasteries, especially that at Coventry, which she and her husband founded (1043). The legend about her, which first appears in the chronicle of Roger of Wendover, states that her husband agreed to remit the heavy taxation on the people of Coventry if she would ride naked through the town on a white horse. The story of Peeping Tom, the only person who looked through the closed shutters, did not enter the legend until the 17th cent. Michael Drayton (1613), Tennyson (1842), and others made Lady Godiva the subject of poems. A bronze statue of her by Sir William Reid Dick was erected in Coventry in 1949.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies