Who is Lady Godiva

According to legend, Lady Godiva was the beautiful wife of the English Count Leofric. The earl imposed exorbitant taxes on the vassal city of Coventry, and the Countess begged her husband to lower them. Once at a regular feast, being very drunk, Leofric promised to lower taxes if his wife rides naked on a horse through the streets of Coventry. He was sure that this condition would be completely unacceptable for her. However, Godiva still took this step. Residents of the city, loving and respecting her for her kindness, closed the shutters and doors of their houses on the appointed day, no one went out into the street. Only one resident of the city, by the name of Tom, dared to look out of the window at the naked horsewoman - and at the same moment he became blind. So unnoticed, she drove through the city. The count was amazed at the woman's dedication and, keeping his word, lowered taxes.

But how true is this legend? The lives of Leofric and Godiva are described in detail in the chronicles preserved in England. It is known that Leofric built a Benedictine monastery in 1043, which overnight transformed Coventry from a small settlement into the fourth largest medieval English city. Leofric endowed the monastery with land and gave 24 villages to the monastery, and Lady Godiva presented such an amount of gold, silver and precious stones that no other monastery in England could match it in wealth. Godiva was very devout and after the death of her husband, being on her deathbed, transferred all his possessions to the church. Count Leofric and Lady Godiva were buried in this monastery. The chronicles are silent about the events described in the legend.

The story of the naked horsewoman was first mentioned by the monk of the monastery of St. Alban Roger Vendrover in 1188; according to him, the events took place on July 10, 1040. In the future, popular rumor only supplemented this legend. Later in the 13th century, King Edward I wanted to find out the truth about this legend. A study of the annals confirmed that there was indeed no tax in Coventry since 1057, but the dates differ at 17 years old.

However, in 1678, the people of Coventry instituted an annual celebration in honor of Lady Godiva. This festival continues to this day. It is mainly a carnival, where there is a lot of music, songs, and fireworks in the evening. Carnival participants dress in 11th century costumes. The procession starts from the ruins of the first cathedral and then follows the route laid by the once brave lady. The final part of the festival takes place in the city park near the monument to Lady Godiva. The music of that time sounds here and the participants of the holiday compete in various competitions, the most popular of which is the competition for the best lady Godiva. This competition is attended by women dressed in eleventh century ladies' dresses, and long golden hair is a prerequisite for the competition.

Not far from the former Coventry Cathedral, there is a monument to Lady Godiva with her hair loose on horseback. The image of the monument is also featured on the seal of the Coventry City Council.