The Historical Lady Godiva


Historians are a cynical bunch who argue that there is little or no historical evidence to support the idea that the famous ride ever occurred, although they have conceded its myth-making potential. Godiva herself did exist of course. John of Worcester (died c. 1140) praised her Christian virtue as follows:

"Among his other good deeds in this life, he and his wife, the noble countess Godgiva, who was a devout worshipper of God, and one who loved the ever-virgin St. Mary, entirely constructed at their own cost the monastery there, well endowed it with land, and enriched it with ornaments to such an extent, that no monastery could be then found in England possessing so much gold, silver, jewels, and precious stones."

A century later the legend was rendered a lot more interesting by another monk-chronicler, Roger of Wendover, when he added the dispute between Godiva and Leofric over taxes and the naked ride to the story. From there she never looked back.

For a literary approach, which seems the most sensible: here.