Bye Bye Beardie

In the 18th century, in an attempt to westernize Russia, Peter I ordered that all gentlemen, merchants, and other subjects shave off their beards, or pay a tax in order to keep them.  This caused an outrage among the older, more traditional Russians, for beards were a sign of dignity, honor, and respect.  Many believed this order was a crime against the church, and they despised the new European dress that was forced upon them.  Some people’s beliefs extended so far that they saved their shaved beards in order to have it buried with them in their graves, granting them access to heaven.  In order to carry out his plan to democratize society through more comfortable and simpler styles, Peter I cut off many beards himself, as demonstrated in the image above.  However, while the adherents to the old customs despised the new reforms, the younger generations enjoyed the new styles and clean shaven faces, for they believed it enhanced their looks and made them more desirable.