On this day 1040:
Lady Godiva, Countess of Mercia rode naked on a horseback through Coventry to force her husband, the Earl of Mercia, to reduce the taxation on his subjects.
Lady Godiva was an 11th century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman married to Leofric, the powerful Earl of Mercia and Lord of Coventry. As the legend goes, she was unhappy with the heavy taxation the people were forced to pay and repeatedly appealed to her husband, who obstinately refused to reduce the taxes.
Finally, weary of her entreaties, Leofric came up with a seemingly ‘impossible’ condition. He agreed to lower the taxes only if she would strip naked and ride on a horse through the streets of the town.
Determined to help the people Lady Godiva took up the challenge and issued a proclamation for all persons should stay indoors and shut their windows. She then stripped and rode through the town, covered only in her long hair.
However, one person in the town, a tailor known as Thomas couldn’t resist opening his window to get an eyeful. Upon doing so, this he was struck blind and became known afterwards known as “Peeping Tom”.
Godiva finished her naked ride and demanded that her husband should hold up his end of the bargain. True to his word, Leofric complied and reduced the people’s taxes.