Coventry is believed to have sprung up around a Benedictine monastery founded in the 11th century by the Earl of Mercia. His wife, Lady Godiva, is famed for having ridden on horseback naked through the streets of Coventry as a protest against the high taxes her husband had imposed on his tenants. She has since become a legendary character and one of the most famous Coventrians of all time.
The market which grew up around the abbey went on to become a bustling mercantile hub and so the town flourished.
During the industrial revolution Coventry became a major centre for textile production and later on watch and clock manufacture.
Around the turn of the 20th Century, Coventry made a name for itself in first bicycle then automobile manufacture; with such pioneers as Rover plying their trade from the city's industrial district Coventry became an important player in the British motor industry until its decline in the 70s.
During World War II, Coventry's high concentration of manufacturing plants which were providing a huge contribution to the war effort made it a major target for the German Luftwaffe air raids. Coventry suffered some of heaviest bombing among British cities and much of the city centre was destroyed including parts of the St. Michael's Cathedral . A new cathedral was built next to the ruins of the old one and opened in 1962. This and other major redevelopment projects reshaped the city giving it its modern look.