5 Sep: Bring On The Beard Tax

Peter The Great levied a tax on facial hair on 5th September, 1698, requiring every man in Moscow to shave or stump up some cash – although there were exemptions for the Orthodox Church.

The hare-brained scheme occurred to the eccentric Peter on his expeditions through Europe, where he came to see clean chins as symbolic of progress and sophistication.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly uncover Peter’s other ‘European rules of comportment’; convert the costs of Peter’s taxes into the highly-relatable metric of ‘sturgeon from North’; and reveal how a similar tax was proposed in New Jersey as recently as 1907… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Russia: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present’ (Mauricio Borrero, 2009):


• ‘10 terrible taxes in history’ (HistoryExtra, 2018): https://www.historyextra.com/period/general-history/10-terrible-taxes/

• ‘Ten Minute History – Peter the Great and the Russian Empire’ (History Matters, 2019):