The stories surrounding Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom are somewhat of a mess; there are conflicting accounts, opinions of what is fact or fiction, as well as fairly thin links to the actual historical figures.
In history, Lady Godiva was the wife of the Earl of Mercer and Lord of Coventry, Leofric. He was an incredibly powerful member of the aristocracy and, alongside his wife, he founded a monastery in 1043. The process led him to receive lordship over an additional 24 villages, but this is where reality and folklore begins to diverge.
In the folklore, Leofric supposedly enforced extreme burdens of taxes on the villagers living in and around Coventry. Due to the effect it was having on their lives, Lady Godiva begged each day for Leofric to lift the taxes and allow the people of Coventry to live in peace. Through relentless persistence, she eventually managed to convince him to do so, but on one condition: she had to ride her horse through the town naked.
In both the folk tales and historical documents, Lady Godiva’s dedication to the monastery and the Virgin Mary were unprecedented. She agreed to perform his request and, despite being unwilling, she overcame her initial fear and went ahead for the people of Coventry and the monastery.
Orders were given for all the townsfolk to remain indoors, with their windows and doors shut, so that the shame of her task would be as contained as possible. She mounted her horse and, as the famous tale describes, her long hair flowed behind her as she rode through the town.
One man, who went by the name Tom, gave in to the temptation of seeing Lady Godiva naked and, when she rode past, he tried to open his windows and catch a glimpse of her atop her horse. Before he could, he was blinded, and a new term was founded that is still used today: Peeping Tom.