"The story of this 11th century english noblewoman is that her mean husband the Earl Leofric raised taxes on the townspeople of Coventry which Lady Godiva, and not surprisingly the locals, thought were too high. She badgered her husband and he conceded the exasperation if she rode to the town naked, assuming that she never would but she did. Because people don't like taxes even though that's how civilization is purchased, Lady Godiva's story lives on notably in the Godiva logo and popular songs. But while Lady Godiva was a real person and Coventry is a real town there's no record from her nude ride from the time it happened so we safely assume that the story is false."

CGPGrey on "5 Historical Misconceptions Rundown".

  • 2
    11th century not 18th.
    – Henry
    Apr 19, 2012 at 19:41
  • 2
    "Skeptics - Stack Exchange is for challenging unreferenced notable claims, pseudoscience and biased results." I don't really like this question. It's not really a fit. There is not much chance to find out what happened over 800 years ago. History is written by the people in power. So maybe it happened and the Earl didn't wanted it mentioned in writing. Or maybe it was just made up by common people for fun and to mock the nobles a little. Anyway, who really cares? Apr 19, 2012 at 20:37
  • I would suggest moving this to History and see what they think. Apr 19, 2012 at 23:44
  • 5
    @martin I once asked on meta, and pseudo history is on topic here.
    – Golden Cuy
    Apr 20, 2012 at 2:49

1 Answer 1


It's never really going to be possible to completely prove or disprove this as the supposed date is around 800 years ago but I would say with reasonable certainty this is a myth.

Lady Godiva was a real person and was talked about in literature from the time for her charitable nature and large donations to the church. Contemporary Accounts of her life note that she was one of only a few female landowners in England in the 1000s, but they make no mention of a clothes-free horseback ride. Noteably in John of Worcester's Chronicle of world and English history Original manuscript if anyone is able to read latin.

The first mention of Godiva's ride wasn't until 100-200 years later in a book by the English monk Roger of Wendover. The peeping tom part of the story was later added on in the 16th century. Univeristy of Chicago and History.com

Due to the large gap between her life and when the story was first told and the fantastical nature of the story I thinks it's reasonable to conclude that this story is a myth.

  • indeed. Her Christian heritage and the customs of the time make it extremely unlikely that she, a pious lady of means, would do such a thing. Most likely it's to be interpreted as allegory, with naked meaning pure, clean, without guilt for the actions of her husband.
    – jwenting
    Nov 5, 2018 at 10:40

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