In 1698, Tsar Peter I signed a decree "On wearing a German dress, on shaving beards and mustaches, on walking schismatics in the attire indicated for them."
According to this decree, from September 1, 1698, Russians were prohibited from wearing a beard. An exception was made only for priests. Anyone who did not want to part with a beard was supposed to take a duty.
The idea to replenish the state budget at the expense of the bearded men came to Peter during his first trip to Europe. Returning to Russia, the tsar personally cut the beards of some noble boyars.
It is interesting that the innovation did not cause delight among the subjects of the Russian tsar. According to church norms, shaving a beard was considered a sin, since a person violated the appearance given to him by God.
But the state treasury, on the eve of the Northern War, needed additional funds.
In 1699, a special copper token, the beard sign, was introduced to confirm the payment of beard tax. On the face of the token was a beard and the inscription “money taken”.
By a decree of January 16, 1705, a rate grid of tariffs was established. Different classes had to pay an annual tax of 30 to 100 rubles. The sum for those times is huge. Therefore, wearing a beard has become an expensive pleasure.
The peasants in the village wore beards for free, but when entering and leaving the city they paid 1 kopeck.
In 1715, a single duty was introduced for all estates in Russia - 50 rubles a year. In this case, the bearded man must be dressed in an old-fashioned uniform. Anyone who saw the offender not dressed according to the decree could report to the authorities and receive half of the fine. If the culprit could not pay the required amount, he was sent to hard labor to work off the money.
After the death of Peter the Great, it was not immediately allowed to wear a beard freely. Only on April 6, 1772, Catherine II canceled the duty. At the same time, it was stipulated that state and court officials should be shaved.
By the way, bans and taxes on beards were introduced in other countries as well. For example, in England in 1535, King Henry VIII introduced a tax on bearded men.
In France, in the 16th century, during the reign of Francis, a beard tax was introduced from priests.
And in the American state of Massachusetts, in 1830, a law was passed according to which imprisonment was imposed for unshaven.