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Lady Godiva

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About Lady Godiva:

Dates: born possibly about 1010, died between 1066 and 1086

Occupation: noblewoman

Known for: legendary naked ride through Coventry

Also known as: Godgyfu, Godgifu (means "gift of God")

Marriage, Children:

  • husband: Leofric, Earl of Mercia
  • children:
    • Godiva was probably the mother of Leofric's son, Aelfgar of Mercia, married to Aelgifu
    • Children of Aelfgar and Aelfgifu included Edith of Mercia (Ealdgyth) who married Gruffydd ap Llewellyn and Harold II (Harold Godwinson) of England

More About Lady Godiva:

We know very little about Lady Godiva's real history. She is mentioned in some contemporary or near-contemporary sources as the wife of the earl of Mercia, Leofric.

A twelfth century chronicle says that Lady Godiva was a widow when she married Leofric. Her name appears with her husband's in connection with donations to a number of monasteries, so she was likely known for her generosity by contemporaries.

Lady Godiva is mentioned in the Domesday book as being alive after the Norman conquest (1066) as the only major woman to hold land after the conquest, but by the time of the book's writing (1086) she had died.

Descendants:

Lady Godiva was likely the mother of Leofric's son, Aelfgar of Mercia, who was himself father of Edith of Mercia (also called Ealdgyth) who is known for her marriages to first Gruffyd ap Llewellyn of Wales and then Harold Godwinson (Harold II of England).

Lady Godiva's Ride:

Lady Godiva's name is known mostly for her legendary tax protest, a ride through the streets of Coventry, naked, with nothing to cover her but her long hair. While that story is likely a myth, the name of Godiva, wife of Leofric, does appear in contemporary records.

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