Updated: Mar 9, 2020
An 11th-century noblewoman, named by some sources as “Godgifu”, later renamed as Lady Godiva, was married to Leofric, the powerful Earl of Mercia and Lord of Coventry. Godiva was troubled by the crippling taxes her husband had posed on the people and she asked him to lower the price. Leofric replied jokingly that he would lower the taxes only if she rode naked on horseback through the center of town. Godiva, who was widely known for her generosity and charity to the church, could not stand the thought of the people of Coventry suffering under such a heavy tax wage. She stripped naked and rode her horse through the market square with only her long hair to cover herself. Legend states that before she started her ride she ordered the populace of Coventry to remain in their homes and not peek at her nakedness. One man named Tom, however, disregarded her plea, and did take a peek through his window at Godiva’s nudity. He was struck blind for his insolence and the term “Peeping Tom” was born. Godiva’s sacrifice was not for naught. Her husband held up to his end of the agreement and lowered the taxes, reducing the people’s debt in lieu of his wife’s sacrifice.
Lady Godiva is one of the most iconic figures in history. Many of us are aware of the naked lady riding a horse through the streets, but until recently, I was unaware of the purpose of that long-ago display. As it turns out, Lady Godiva was protesting an increase in taxes.
Every property owner in Meade County pays taxes in support of our schools, governing bodies, boards, special taxing districts and services, such as fire and police departments. Our tax dollars pay the operating costs, salaries and benefits of those elected or employed to run our county and city governments and our schools.
In the past few months, The Messenger, has been providing detailed coverage and information about the decisions and fiduciary responsibilities of those receiving our tax dollars. We hope that you have gained insight and motivation to seek out those on “your” payroll to either congratulate them, if you believe they have fulfilled their duties, or question their performance, if they have not.
Although this publisher will not be “walking nude down Broadway” as was recently commented in one of our letters to the editor, I, like Godiva, do and will protest any increase in our taxes or the waste of our tax dollars in the form of irresponsibility and mismanagement. The journalists of the Messenger shall continue informing our readers about the meetings, votes, and decisions of our officials that affect the tax paying citizens of our community.
In the next few months, most of our tax-supported groups will be reviewing their budgets and planing for 2020-2021. How will they decide to spend your tax dollars? Will they discuss their options openly? Will they spend wisely? Will they lower tax rates or return unused funds to the taxpayers? I ask that all citizens voice your opinions to those you have elected, or supported, in their roles as community leaders to fulfill their positions with transparency, honesty, and integrity.
Rena M. Singleton, Publisher
(Picture Credit: John Maler Collier’s Lady Godiva, painted around 1898.)