Saber and Scroll


Although it is now widely accepted that Lady Godiva never mounted her horse “bareback,” the infamous Domesday Book documented she was indeed a landowner in Coventry. In isolation, this tale is a pleasurable story of risk-taking. However, when viewed beneath the broader lens of gender roles and sexual mores of the Middle Ages, it leads to questions regarding English women of the twelfth century. Although fantastical, this myth hints at undercurrents of power, femininity, and sexual boundaries that defined the lives of women in this time and place. Additionally, the expectations of women were quite duplicitous with images of the chaste virgin at church and folktales such as this in the homes of both the wealthy and the peasantry. The myth of Lady Godiva provides insight into the perceptions of femininity, sex, and power in twelfth century England from a variety of perspectives.



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