On this day: Russian Beard Tax

Friday, 5th September 2014 by

Three hundred and sixteen years ago, Emperor Peter I of Russia was in an ongoing battle with the Slavic elites about modernising the country and making it more ‘European’. One casualty of this campaign was … the traditional long beard! The country’s citizens were encouraged to go clean-shaven – refusing to do meant paying a Beard Tax of 100 roubles! Here’s a fine example of an offending beard, from a portrait in the Russian Museum in St Petersburg.