It’s an interesting time to have a beard; it seems like you everywhere you look, men are rocking facial hair. That wasn’t always the case, as those who know their beard history are aware of. In 1689, The Czar of Russia Peter I – popularly known as Peter the Great – created a beard tax that made it difficult for men to actually have a beard at the time. Although it may seem ridiculous that someone would do this, surprisingly, it wasn’t the only time, King Henry VII of England did the same. Why did Peter The Great do that you may ask? Was it because they didn’t have the beard products that we do today and their facial hair stunk? No, that’s not it, but you will find out.
Years prior, Peter the Great had disguised himself as “Sergeant Pyotr Mikhaylov” to learn about the country of Europe directly. While doing so, he learned how to design ships and take part in shipbuilding. When his time in the beautiful countryside was up, he came back and unsuspectedly decided to reform Russia. His goal was to modernize the country that he grew to know. The Tsar wanted his country to compete with the beauty of Europe. This reform included the change of the calendar, an overhaul of the military, improving Russia’s reputation, and… war on facial hair of Russian men.
The Shaving and The Beard Tax
During a reception being held in his honor, he declared to that beards would be a thing of the past. The people thought it was for a laugh at first until Peter the Great pulled out a straight razor. This changed the people’s giddy mood to a frightening one. Throughout the rest of the reception, the ruler of Russia took his time to personally shave all of his men’s beards himself.
It seems ridiculous that Tsar Peter I, ruler of Russia, would enforce such a silly rule. Unfortunately, he did, and strictly too! This controversial new policy quickly began to infuriate people, particularly those who are required to grow their facial hair due to their religious beliefs. Eventually, Peter the Great decided to create a beard tax that will allow Russian men to grow their beard when they please, only with a payment. Although money was required, men were allowed to continue growing their facial hair again.