On this day in 1040 Lady Godiva rode naked on horseback through Coventry, according to legend, to force her husband, the Earl of Mercia, to lower taxes.
A great story, but there is very little evidence that this actually happened. On the other hand, perhaps it did. Certainly the story has lasted a long time and become the inspiration for many works of art including paintings and sculptures. If it did happen, then clearly the lady was way ahead of her time. This story has inspired today’s charity fund raisers who do outrageous things to raise money.
Lord Tennyson was inspired to write this poem, Lady Godiva ‘while waiting for his train in Coventry’.
Then she rode forth, clothed on with chastity:
The deep air listen’d round her as she rode,
And all the low wind hardly breathed for fear.
The little wide-mouth’d heads upon the spout
Had cunning eyes to see: the barking cur
Made her cheek flame; her palfrey’s foot-fall shot
Light horrors thro’ her pulses; the blind walls
Were full of chinks and holes; and overhead
Fantastic gables, crowding, stared: but she
Not less thro’ all bore up, till, last, she saw
The white-flower’d elder-thicket from the field,
Gleam thro’ the Gothic archway in the wall.
Then she rode back, clothed on with chastity;
. . . she took the tax away
And built herself an everlasting name.
To listen to this poem, click here –
Today I ask that I will be ready to act for causes in which I believe, no matter what the cost to me.