The Real Story Of Lady Duckgiva

 

Believe me, no one knows less about history, er, check that, more about history than yours truly. That’s why you may be curious to learn most historians who think they know the true story of Lady Godiva actually know far less than they thought they did based on the facts we’re about to make up, er, check that, about to uncover. Today, we present Lady Godiva as she really was, and even more important for those faithful followers of famous duck history, we’ll also provide the truth about Lady Duckiva—the divine duckess who inspired the Godiva myth to begin with. Believe me, this one explains way more than you ever wanted to know.

 

This is about Lady Godiva, not Godiva chocolates.

No, no, no! This is not the tale of Godiva chocolates. However, we highly recommend eating chocolate and pouring yourself a glass of wine while you continue reading on.

Now, in case you think Lady Godiva is the woman who owns the chocolate empire, we offer this brief rundown of the original myth to set matters to rights:

 

As the story goes, Ms. Godiva was appalled to learn that the taxes her greedy husband had enacted on the local villagers in the town of Coventry were so high that the poorest among the town’s population were literally starving in the streets. Being of a liberal persuasion, she went straight to her husband and explained the situation thinking he would reverse course. Turns out he laughed in her face, instead. And then to add insult to injury, he said the only way he’d even consider lowering taxes was if she rode through the town on the back of a horse without any clothes.

 

The painting "Lady Godiva" is by John Collier.

This famous work was painted by John Collier in 1898. The painting and others like it probably did much to inspire the continuing myth surrounding Lady Godiva. Good thing we’re here to set the record as straight as a broken arrow floating down a meandering creek that’s been damned up by a herd of Pogo-stick loving beavers!

 

Of course, Ms. Godiva, took him up on the offer and the townspeople were so touched by her courage they promised to stay indoors during the whole episode so as not to cause her undue embarrassment. As it turned out, the ride went off without a stitch, er check that, without a hitch, except that the town’s tailor, Tom, watched Ms. Godiva ride past by from a secret hiding place. Thus, not only did the story generate the myth of Ms. Godiva and her “bareback” horse ride, but it is also credited as the origin of the name given to those who surreptitiously peek through windows at night—that is, Peeping Toms.

 

Now, if you believe any of this happened as it’s been told you know nothing of how history is actually made, or should we say made up. You see, it was some 200 years after the fact that this story was written down. Seriously, who can write an accurate account of history 200 years later? No, like much of human history, this tale is as much or more fiction than not, and that’s no brag, it’s just a fact.

 

And To Think We’re Only Getting Started!

 

 

Fear not faithful duck history followers, our duck friends are here to help us accurately portray the passage of time! Thanks to a long tradition of passing on their history orally, plus a genetic peculiarity giving them near picture-perfect memory, plus their close proximity to human populations over the course of our existence, ducks happen to be in the best position to pass on human history as it actually occurred. Better yet, as your one and only famous duck historian, I’ve been granted an exclusive license by the Fellowship of Odd Water Leaguers (aka FOWL) to tell history as it actually happened according to those in the know. Don’t believe it? Then why are you still reading this? Stop! Wait! This only gets better.

 

Lady Duckgiva

 

Here’s history as it actually, almost probably happened according to a dearly non-departed duck I really ought to get to know before he passes on:

 

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, Lady Fanny Mae Duckgiva married Mr. Upchuck Tommy Pompous the Fifth. As was common for the day this was an arranged marriage. However, Ms. Duckgiva came from a distinguished family of potato farmers, who would never under normal circumstances marry their daughter duck off to someone named Mr. Upchuck Tommy Pompous. The sad fact is Mr. Pompous came from such a pretentious and obnoxious family he was actually the fifth in a line of ever more pompous and self-righteous windbags.

 

Mr. Duckdiva delivering the fateful news to his daughter.

The Duckgiva family was in a financial bind. Without the money promised by Mr. Pompous for their daughter’s hand in marriage they’d surely go bankrupt.

Alas, times were tough in the potato business as a string of bad harvests left the Duckgiva’s in substantial debt with those they owed the most money to on any given day, plus those they owed less money to on all the other days. Believe me, banking was much more complicated way back when. Now, at the same time the Duckgiva’s were struggling financially, Mr. Pompous was so worried he’d never find a bride during his peak off peak hours he offered up a considerable chunk of his fortune to convince the Duckgiva family to part with Fanny Mae. It was a match, as they say, made out of mutual desperation.

 

With their debts paid off, the Duckgiva family went on to make a fortune in the potato business after inventing French fries in England for Italian immigrants (but that’s a story for another day). Poor Fanny, of course, saw none of her family’s good luck. Her life became one filled with misery, since Mr. Pompous made her sit at his web feet as he blathered on and on about his family’s detestable treatment of those poor unfortunates they lorded over.

 

After months of listening to her snobbish husband prattle on, Fanny was at her wit’s end. One day without warning she suddenly snapped. Jumping up she raced out of the house, stripped off all her clothes and slide into the saddle of her hubby’s horse. She was as naked as naked can be for a duck, wearing nothing but her bright red feathered headdress. She was determined to be free of Mr. Pompous, his pathetically portentous platitudes, and the life she hated with all her heart. Not quite sure how long she rode, or where she was headed, she pushed on and on through the night.

 

This is where human and duck paths finally merge and get twisted and jumbled before getting sucked into the quagmire of history. It was Lady Godiva, you see, who was alerted to Fanny’s plight by the local tailor, Tom Peepers. Tom, being an early riser, spotted Fanny out his shop window early the next morning. Naturally, Fanny was quite a sight to behold for how often does a poor tailor get to see a naked duck riding atop a fine stallion?

 

Peeping Tom gazes on Lady Godiva or Tom Peepers spots Lady Duckdiva in need.

Tom was stunned to see the buck naked Ms. Duckgiva riding her steed and immediately scurried off to inform Ms. Godiva. (Click to enlarge).

 

Ms. Godiva was shocked and dismayed when she learned of poor Fanny’s plight. In fact, it touched her so much she sent one of her husband’s best hunters to track down Mr. Pompous and string him up. He was then plucked, tarred and feathered, before being re-plucked, un-tarred and roasted for the local townspeople who were starving on account of Lord Godiva’s regressive taxation policies. Ms. Godiva then adopted Fanny officially, and in doing so is credited with establishing the very first chapter of the Humane Society. (Note: Don’t bother fact-checking this story on the Humane Society’s website, as I’m sure they made up their own far more “humanely human” version of the facts.)

 

Mr. Pompous goes to dinner.

It was a befitting end to Mr. Pompous and quite a feast for the starving of Coventry.

Now, this story might and probably should end right here, except there’s more to tell and I’m not done typing. Fanny was happy to have a new home, but her burdens proved too much to bear. Thus, every day for the next year at precisely seven in the morning, she could be found riding naked on her former husband’s fine stallion through the streets of Coventry. At first, the townspeople didn’t know what to think. Should they avert their eyes? Should they pity the poor little naked duck with the bright red feathered headdress? Then it became obvious Fanny was gradually changing before their eyes. It was clear she liked flaunting her aforementioned feathers and furthermore did it with far more frequent and frenzied flippancy.

 

Coventry’s lady’s of finer breeding (aka its snobs) started noticing the strange looks on their husband’s eyes as Fanny would amble by on her horse, smile and flip her feathers immodestly. Something had to be done! This, this insane little duck had the indecency to be indecent, and worse, it was sparking all sorts of requests among the men folk for their women to wear feathered costumes to bed. Outrageous!

 

Banding together the lady snobs did what only lady snobs can do: They flipped off Fanny and banned the men from town during the wee hours of the morning. Yet as it turned out there was a failing bar just outside the city limits and all the men decided to congregate there each day, until the appointed seven o’clock hour had passed. Naturally, Fanny learned of their fate and knew right off what she had to do: She bought the bar, installed a stage, and created the very first burlesque act.

 

Fanny's bar featured the very first burlesque act.

This is a shot of current day “Fanny’s” which was erected on the site of the original bar in Coventry after burning down during the second world war.

Fanny’s, as the bar fondly became known, was a smash success from the start. Men came from miles around to see Fanny’s famously feathered fan dance or wander in the back rooms and take a peek at her peep shows. And pretty soon, you couldn’t pry Tom Peepers or any of the other Peeping Toms away as they watched her perform from morning until night. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

There, now, don’t you feel better? Let’s face it, duck history rocks and that means human history is all but history. ‘Till next time.

 

For even more famous, “Famous Ducks History” click here.

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