In England in 1040, Leofric (the Dane) and Lord of Coventry, angered the people with his heavy-handed taxing. Meeting in secret, the townspeople thought that they could reach him through his wife, Lady Godiva. After all, hadn’t she shown great compassion for the peasants on many occasions?
So the peasants pleaded with her and she relayed their request to Lord Leofric but he would not even consider it. But to stop her from pleading, he promised that if she would ride a horse through the village in the nude, he would lower the citizens’ taxes. After all, what woman would do that? Ride naked? In public? It was not something any woman wished to do, especially one who lived in a castle.
But Lady Godiva proved to be a clever (and trusting) woman. She asked the peasants to stay home and close their shutters. In other words, don’t peek at me as I ride naked through the street so my stubborn husband will lower your taxes. The story is told that the peasants gave their word and kept it, not peeking as she rode through town, her long, beautiful hair the only thing that hid her nakedness.
Lord Leofric had not believed that his wife would do it, and to his credit he honored his promise and lowered the taxes on the villagers. Today, the people of Coventry, England are extremely proud of their Lady Godiva.
Suellen Ocean is the author of the historic novel The Celtic Prince Available here: http://www.amazon.com/Celtic-Prince-Before-After/dp/1484086392