Lady Godiva

Background and Legend

    Godgifu (Godiva) and her husband Leofric moved to Coventry, Warwickshire from Shrewsbury, Shropshire where Leofric had earned his fortune and title from huge successes in the mutton trade.  Both deeply religious, Godgifu and Leofric founded and funded an abbey in honour of an early martyr, Ste. Eunice of Saxmundham.  As Coventry grew around this edifice, Leofric assumed responsibility for the public affairs and financial concerns of the community, which led to the levying of taxes.

    The tax burden proved onerous, and legend tells us that Godgifu pleaded with her husband for a tax reduction, to which he replied in jest that he would reduce the taxes when she rode nude on a horse through town at noon on market day.  Much to his surprise, Godgifu did just that; and Leofric removed the burdensome taxes, all except for a tax on horses.  Or so the legend goes.

    Although Leofric and Godgifu are historical persons, there is no evidence that the actual ride ever took place.  It is first mentioned as having occurred in 1057 in Roger of Wendover's Chronica (written circa 1200) and was embellished upon later.  For a more complete account, click on Lady Godiva

Pru Poretta
Coventry and Lady Godiva To-day

    The legend of Lady Godiva is to-day a symbol of and attraction for the City of Coventry.  A local lady, Ms. Pru Poretta, pictured to the right, portrays Lady Godiva fully clothed in the manner of an 11th century Saxon noblewoman.  She spreads the story of life in 11th century Coventry to schools, residential homes, hospitals, community groups, and tourists.
Coventry Logo
    The official logo of the Coventry City Council used to be a stylized lady and a horse.  Click on the logo to go to the Coventry City Council page about Lady Godiva. 


    The genealogical information on this page is from Frederick Lewis Weis: Ancestral Roots, 7th Edition, Baltimore, 1999 pp. 151-152 (Line 176A) and p. 6 (Line 1B 23). Other historical information and anecdotes are from the web sites linked to above and David C. Douglas: William the Conqueror, University of California, 1964.

Generation One
Godgifu, also known as Lady Godiva who is reputed to have ridden nude on her horse through Coventry.  Godgifu was a sister of Thorold of Buckingham, sheriff of Lincolnshire.  Godgifu's ancestry is uncertain, but she was evidently of an old, noble family.
Born about 1010
Died before 1085
Godgifu married about 1030 to Leofric, Earl of Mercia who was the son of Leofwine, Earl of Mercia (died by 1032).  Leofric died at Bromley, Staffordshire on August 31, 1057.

Godgifu (or Godiva) and Leofric had only one known child, a son:

Generation Two
Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia
Died about 1063
Ælfgar married Aelfgifu and they had the following children:

Generation Three
Eadwine or Edwin, Earl of Mercia
Died in 1071
Edwine, Earl of Mercia and his brother Morkere, Earl of Northumbria were allies of King Harold Godwineson to whom their sister Ealdgyth was married.  They gave battle to and were defeated (but not killed) by the Norwegian King Harold Hardraada and his ally Tostig (the former Earl of Northumbria) at Fulford Gate on September 20, 1066.  Harold Godwineson then defeated Hardraada and Tostig at Stamford Bridge on September 25, and was in turn defeated by William "the Conqueror" of Normandy at Hastings on October 14, 1066.
In 1071, the brothers Eadwine and Morkere were slain when they took up arms in an unsuccessful revolt against William the Conqueror.

Eadwine had a son:

Generation Four
Owain ap Edwin, Lord Tegaingl
Owain ap Edwin married a daughter of Angharad Ferch Maredudd, Queen of Powys and Cynfyn ap Gwerystan, King of Powys; and they had the following children:

Generation Five
Died about 1162
Angharad married  Gruffydd ap Cynan, Prince of Gwynedd and they had the following children:

For the continuation of this line, click on Gruffydd ap Cynan.

David C. Douglas:  William the Conqueror, Berkeley, California, 1964
Norman F. Cantor (ed.) The Encyclopædia of the Middle Ages, New York, 1999
Frederick L. Weis and Walter L. Sheppard:  Ancestral Roots, 7th Edition, Baltimore, 1999

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