Today in History, Sept. 5

U.S. State DepartmentA beard token, given to Russians who paid the beard tax.

315 years ago today, on Sept. 5, 1698, Peter I introduced a tax on beards to bring Russians closer to Western cultural standards. Nobles and officials were charged 600 rubles per year — a substantial amount at the time — if they didn't cut their beards. Only church officials were exempt.