THIS Procession takes place in Coventry every seven years, in celebration of the Countess Godiva
riding naked through the Streets of Coventry, in order to take away the heavy Taxes with which
the Citizens were burdened.
Dugdale, the great Warwickshire Historian, gives the following account of Godiva:-
"Countess Godiva, bearing an extraordinary affection to this place (Coventry), often and earnestly besought
"her husband, the Earl Leofric, that for the love of God and the Blessed Virgin, he would free it from that
"grevious servitude whereunto it was subject; but he, rebuking her for importuning him in a matter so inconsist-
"ent with his profit, commanded that she should henceforth forbear to move therein; yet she, out of womanish
"pertinacity, continued to solicit him, inasmuch that he told her, if she would ride on horseback, naked, from one
"end of the town to the other, in the sight of all the people, he would grant her request. Whereupon she returned : -
" 'But will you give me leave to do so?' and he replying 'Yes,' the noble lady, on an appointed day, got on horse-
"back, naked, with her hair loose, so that it covered all her body but her legs, and thus performing the journey,
"returned with joy to her husband, who thereupon granted to the inhabitants a Charter of Freedom."
Leofric's condition was that the Countess was to ride through the streets " in the sight of all the people."
but it would appear that as it was solely for the benefit of the inhabitants that Godiva performed this extra-
ordinary undertaking, they, to show how they appreciated her goodness, and from a feeling of delicacy
towards her, voluntary shut themselves up indoors on the occasion, but one - Peeping Tom as he is
called - violated this voluntary measure by peeping through a hole in his shutter, and for this he was struck
blind before he had seen the fair rider.
| ||Tennyson, in his poem on Godiva, after having described her progress through the city, concludes as follows:|
"Then she rode back, clothed on with chastity:
"And one low churl, compact of thankless earth,
"That fatal byword of all years to come,
"Boring a little auger-hole in fear,
"Peeped - but his eyes, before they had their will,
"Were shrivell'd into darkness in his head,
"And dropped before him. So the powers who wait
"On noble deeds, cancelled a sense misused;
"And she, that knew not, pass'd: and all at once
"With twelve great shocks of sound, the shameless noon
"Was clash'd and hammer'd from a hundred towers,
"One after one; but even then she gain'd
"Her bower: whence re-issuing, robed, and crown'd,
"To meet her lord, she took the tax away,
"And built herself an everlasting name."
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