as a young tsar, peter the great (1672-1725), travelled throughout western europe to visit with powerful monarchs, scientists, men of business, engineers, and technicians. realizing that the military might of the west was due to its technological advancement & manufacturing capabilities, peter set out to modernize agricultural russia with heavy reforms...
the "old believers" in the russian orthodox church weren't so keen on a few of these changes... especially the one about cutting off their beards to appear more european. those who refused to shave had to pay an annual fee of 100 rubles. 

that's right, a beard tax


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