Beard Tax #OnThisDay

On 5th of September 1698 Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, introduced a beard tax.

It is said that Peter had travelled (in disguise) extensively throughout Europe and when he returned he forged ahead with introducing reforms in Russia.

Brandishing a cut throat razor he declared that all men in Russia must shave off their beards – a deeply unpopular move – so he softened that to imposing a tax on those with beards – and thus raising more money for his projects.

The tax levied depended upon the status of the bearded man: those associated with the Imperial Court, military, or government were charged 60 roubles annually; wealthy merchants were charged 100 roubles per year while other merchants and townsfolk were charged 60 roubles per year; Muscovites were charged 30 roubles per year; and peasants were charged two half-kopeks every time they entered a city.

The tax raised an average of 3,588 roubles annually over the first four years beard tokens were available (1705–1708). However, from a financial standpoint, the tax was unsuccessful due both to the relatively low number of people unwilling to shave their beards and an overestimation of the ability of the Russian state to administer and collect the tax. In 1772, the tax was formally repealed by Catherine the Great.

person holding gray straight razor
Photo by Nick Demou on

Categories: Uncategorized

Tagged as: , , , , , ,

1 reply »

  1. In Praise of Beards

    They’re snuggly
    And cuddly
    And give a face some shape.

    Dark or fair
    Curled or flowing
    Can look good
    When they’re just growing.

    On man or collie
    Very jolly!

Leave a Reply