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Lady Godiva

11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman and figure of legend / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Lady Godiva (/ɡəˈdvə/; died between 1066 and 1086), in Old English Godgifu, was a late Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who is relatively well documented as the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, and a patron of various churches and monasteries. Today, she is mainly remembered for a legend dating back to at least the 13th century, in which she rode naked – covered only in her long hair – through the streets of Coventry to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation that her husband, Leofric, imposed on his tenants. The name "Peeping Tom" for a voyeur originates from later versions of this legend, in which a man named Thomas watched her ride and was struck blind or dead.

Lady Godiva by John Collier, c.1897, in the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry.
Lady Godiva: Edmund Blair Leighton depicts her moment of decision (1892)