Peter the Great of Russia once issued a tax on beards.

Peter the Great was born in 1672 and is one of the most famous tsars to have ruled Russia. He held the throne for twelve years with the help of his half-sister, Sophia, until 1694 when he got rid of his power hungry sister by forcing her to join the convent. That was Peter the Great, the six-foot-seven macho man, he who even killed his son after word reached him that his son claimed he could make a better ruler than his father – this was after some good, prolonged torturing.

Peter the Great was the founder of St. Petersburg and had many achievements in his life including conquering enemy territory, shipbuilding, not to mention a natural craftsman himself. Oh, and he loved his drink this hard-partying tsar.

As a way of bringing western culture into Russia, Beard-token-issued-by-Peter-the-Greathe ordered that anyone with a beard must pay beard tax – this was just a superfluous burden. In the rest of Europe, bare chins, smooth cheeks and perfectly twirled moustaches were the in-thing. Anyone with a beard would be required to wear a beard token (see pic) to certify that he had paid his tax. So as to learn what else was going on in Europe – in an effort to transform this still medieval country into the renaissance – Peter embarked on a grand tour of the continent.

He went to Germany and spent time learning about warfare ad horrific torture techniques (he used this a lot), he went to France and learned the language, the Netherlands where he worked surreptitiously as a shipbuilder just in order to learn the skills that led to his amassing of one of the most superior naval fleet, among other things. By the way, he loved people with some form of defect – dwarves, giants, Siamese twins, they all would be invited back to St. Petersburg where they became part of his courtroom. Amazing guy Peter the Great.

(Source)

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