Beards? We don’t need no stinking beards!

Tsar Peter the Great brought all kinds of social reform to Russia. In a relatively short span of time, he greatly modernized and Westernized the country. The reforms came with no small amount of pain for his subjects, both nobles and commoners.

He wanted his nobles to look more Western, so he ordered them to wear Western clothes and personally — yes, with his own hands — cut off their traditional beards. Everyone except peasants and priests had to pay an annual beard tax and wear a medal proclaiming that “Beards are a ridiculous ornament.”

Peter’s taxes didn’t stop with beards. Reform costs a lot of money, so he soaked his people mercilessly. He taxed candles, nuts, booths, horses, beehives, hats, chimneys, and even drinking water. In a move that foreshadowed modern government policies, he even appointed a committee whose sole goal involved thinking of new taxes!


1 Response to “Beards? We don’t need no stinking beards!”

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