Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lady Godiva Day -- the most famous tax protest of all time

Lady Godiva was an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman whose husband's oppressive taxation policy in the town of Coventry was crippling the local economy. She tried repeatedly to convince her husband to adopt a more moderate approach. Aggravated by her repeated pleas, Godiva's husband finally snapped that he'd lower taxes when she rode through the town naked.

So she did.

This being the very straitlaced Middle Ages (11th Century, to be precise, possibly in A.D. 1040), Godiva gave warning to the good people of the town of her intent, imploring them to stay indoors and away from their windows.

Almost all of them did -- all except for Tom, a local tailor, who bored a hole in his shutters and peeped through as Godiva went by. Legend has it that he was struck blind as a result -- but he was the first "Peeping Tom."

Supposedly, after the famous ride, Godiva's husband actually lowered the oppressive taxes.

That may also have been the last time a politician was shamed into doing anything.

Our crack research staff is persuaded that Lady Godiva was a real person (meaning, basically, that they found an article in Wikipedia, from which the accompanying image is taken). But they are not entirely certain that July 10 is actually the anniversary of the ride, even though this date is usually given as such.

So, if you're a stickler for exact dates, or if you like paying oppressive taxes, maybe you'd rather celebrate Teddy Bear Picnic Day.

One suggestion, though: You probably won't want to take Mark Wahlberg's friend Ted (pictured below) on such an outing -- at least not if you're looking for anything resembling the innocent Teddy Bear Picnic of the familiar children's song.

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