Apart from World Tobacco Day (see previous post) 31st May is also Godiva Day - Godiva was a well endowed (rich!) Anglo Saxon landowner and noblewoman who rode naked through the streets of the English city Coventry opposing an oppressive toll imposed by her husband -apparently: some are of the opinion that the Lady Godiva episode didn't happen; Octavia Randolph does and has written a full and convincing history HERE.
It occured in the 11th Century before the Norman Invasion - Godiva is the Latinised version of the Old English Godgifu/Godgyfu (God's/good gift). Of course the tale has been heavily elebaorated on over the years because - as Octavia points out - Coventry, at that time, was a village of less than 70 families and more interestingly Godiva owned it!
Quite so. The only possibility left i.e. the only thing that the tenants would have had to pay outside of Godiva's control was a national, oppressive tax called the Heregeld, paid to the then king Cnut...that's Cnut, OK? It makes interesting reading as Octavia goes on to explain why the "tale became sentimentalized and ever-more erotically charged". As a slight out-of-character change I have decided not to post gratuitous pictures of some lovely lady's breasts - apologies to those adversely and emotionally affected by this.
"But by far the most vital fact ignored in these retellings is that Godgyfu possessed the village of Coventry outright. She need not ask Leofric [The Earl of Mercia and her husband] or anyone else to suspend or repeal any tax or toll upon it, as she controlled the collection of these herself. The sole exception was the heregeld, an onerous levy instituted by Cnut to pay for the king's personal body-guard. Until revoked by Edward the Confessor in 1051, it was a national tax, required of all. Godgyfu would not have been able to suspend it - but she certainly could have paid it from her own purse."