Pat Wahler, Author

Penning stories to savor.

The Naked Truth

There’s nothing like the deliciousness of really good chocolate. Yesterday, I threw away any notion of the diet I ought to be on, and indulged in a chocolate covered caramel made by Godiva. Heavenly! Yet after I examined the packaging, something occurred to me that I never thought about before – probably since I’m primarily focused on, well, chocolate.

A visit to the Godiva website told me that Godiva, a business with roots in Brussels, named their company after Lady Godiva, for “values associated with her of boldness, generosity, and a pioneering spirit”. The company logo features a naked woman with long flowing tresses (strategically placed) and riding a horse.

As most people know, the story of Lady Godiva (968-1057) is that she took pity on the people, begging her husband to reduce his oppressive taxes on them. Figuring he’d found the perfect way to keep her quiet, he said he’d reduce taxes when she rode naked through their town of Coventry. Godiva, after sending out a strongly worded proclamation for people to stay indoors and not peek, called her husband’s bluff.

Surprisingly, not a person in Coventry failed to follow her order except for one man named Tom, who couldn’t resist the temptation to sneak a look. He was immediately either struck blind or dead (depending on which version you read) through swift heavenly judgement. Meanwhile, Godiva’s ride convinced her husband to reduce taxes and everyone joyously celebrated, except, of course, for Peeping Tom.

It’s all a very pretty story indeed, despite the fact that it never happened. There are no accounts by Godiva’s contemporaries of such an event occurring, and gossip being what it is, most likely her acquaintances would have at least mentioned it. (“Did you hear what Lady Godiva did last week? I’m telling you, I could have died!”)

The oldest form of the story doesn’t appear until the 1200’s, and “Peeping Tom” doesn’t show up until the 1700’s – not exactly the most reliable sources of information. As time went on, little details were added to shape the current legend of Lady Godiva.

Statue of Lady Godiva in Coventry, England – scene of the infamous ride. (Tripadvisor photo)

Coventry, England remains quite proud of Lady Godiva and no one is willing to let her story disappear. The Godiva Procession, part of the Coventry Fair, has been held for many years with “Godiva” typically wearing a body suit and cloak (in case any Peeping Toms are curious). The event has changed over time, and is now called the Coventry Godiva Festival, with a decidedly rock concert leaning. If you’re planning a trip to Coventry around July 7-9, click HERE for the current lineup. Sadly, I didn’t see any mention of an appearance by Lady Godiva on the schedule.

At least there’s one thing of which we can be sure. A story might be only a legend, but Godiva chocolate? That, my friends, is real.

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14 Comments

  1. A great story doesn’t have to be true!

  2. Pat Wahler

    June 1, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    I agree, Sarah!

  3. Linda O'Connell

    June 2, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    Your posts are always interesting and intriguing. Chocolate and I are best friends.

    • Pat Wahler

      June 3, 2017 at 8:01 am

      Linda, I think chocolate is one of the best friends a person could have.

  4. Yeah, but who came up with the Lady Godiva story? Props to that story teller! 🙂 (And props to chocolate! Which, thank goodness, I have in the house because now I’m craving it! )

    • Pat Wahler

      June 4, 2017 at 7:43 am

      Cathy, yes the Lady Godiva ride has certainly endured, hasn’t it?

      Sadly my Godiva chocolate is now gone, and I’m trying to keep myself from buying more. If I buy it, I eat it!

  5. I especially enjoy reading about chocolate – and devouring it as well.

  6. You made me really hungry! But it’s a great story regardless of whether or not it’s true!,

  7. It’s too perfect to have Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom in the same story, I suppose. It is interesting to me how legends are born, and which stories stick with us through the ages. It is not surprising I guess for a story about a beautiful, naked woman to not disappear though. 🙂

    • Pat Wahler

      June 14, 2017 at 8:51 am

      Margo, Lady Godiva certainly makes for a grand tale, and a fabulously provocative Halloween costume.

  8. Better that the story is fake and the chocolate is real than the other way around!

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