Lady Godgyfu of Lincoln, Countess of Mercia


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Leofric III, Ealdorman of Mercia

Lady Godgyfu of Lincoln, Countess of Mercia

  • Born: Buckinghamshire, England
  • Married:
  • Died: 10 Sep 1067, Coventry, Warwickshire, England

  Research Notes:

She is named as wife of Earl Leofric by Florence of Worcester, who specifies that she and her husband founded monasteries at Leominster, Wenlock, Chester and Stowe. The Annals of Peterborough record that “Thoroldus vicecomes et frater germanus Godivæ comitissæ Leycestriæ” founded Spalding Monastery in 1052. Her family origin is also indicated by the undated charter under which “Thoroldus de Bukenhale…vicecomiti” donated Spalding monastery to Croyland abbey which names “domino meo Leofrico comite Leicestriæ et…comitissa sua domina Godiva sorore mea…et cognati mei comitis Algari primogeniti et hæredis eorum”. The De Gestis Herwardi Saxonis names "Aediva trinepta Oslaci ducis" as wife of "Lefricus de Brunne, nepos comitis Radulfi cognominati Scalre", when recording that they were parents of "Herwardus". "Oslaci ducis" could be "Oslac" recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as "earl [of Northumbria]" in 966, but any precise relationship has not been identified. ”Leofricus comes…et conjux mea Godgyve” donated property to Evesham Monastery by undated charter which names “frater meus Normannus”. Godgifu wife of Leofric granted property to St Mary's, Stow by charter dated [1054/57]. Orderic Vitalis records that “Elfgarus comes” had founded “Coventrense cœnobium” and that “Godiova...comitissa” donated “omnem thesaurum suum” to the church. She was the Lady Godiva of legend. 1


An Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who, according to legend, rode naked through the streets of Coventry in England in order to gain a remission of the oppressive toll imposed by her husband on his tenants. The name "peeping Tom" for a voyeur comes from later versions of this legend in which a man named Tom watched her ride and was struck blind.

Both Leofric and Godiva were generous benefactors to religious houses. In 1043 Leofric founded and endowed a Benedictine monastery at Coventry. Writing in the 12th century, Roger of Wendover credits Godiva as the persuasive force behind this act. In the 1050s, her name is coupled with that of her husband on a grant of land to the monastery of St Mary, Worcester and the endowment of the minster at Stow St Mary, Lincolnshire. She and her husband are commemorated as benefactors of other monasteries at Leominster, Chester, Much Wenlock and Evesham.

Her mark, "di Ego Godiva Comitissa diu istud desideravi", appears on a charter purportedly given by Thorold of Bucknall to the Benedictine monastery of Spalding. However, this charter is considered spurious by many historians. Even so, some genealogists have argued that Thorold, who appears in the Domesday Book as sheriff of Lincolnshire, was probably her brother. 2

  Marriage Information:

Godgyfu married Leofric III, Ealdorman of Mercia, son of Leofwine I, Ealdorman of the Hwicce in Mercia. (Leofric III of Mercia was born on 14 May 978 in Mercia, England and died on 31 Aug 1057 in Bromley, Staffordshire, England.)


1 Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, Medlands, Godgifu.

2 Unable to locate the primary source of this synopsis; it is cited by several secondary sources.

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