PETER'S DECREES ON WESTERN DRESS AND SHAVING, 1701 AND 1705


 

Compulsory shaving and wearing of Western dress began, for the limited circle of the tsar's immediate entourage, soon after Peter's return from abroad in 1698. In the next two years these measures were spread to other strata of society, though they came to be somewhat modified by the fiscal needs of the treasury. These innovations, more than any others, had an immediate impact on the man in the street:

 

The decree on "German" dress, 1701:

Western ["German"] dress shall be worn by all the boyars, okol'nichie, members of our councils and of our court . . . gentry of Moscow, secretaries . . . provincial gentry, deti boiarskie, gosti, government officials, strel'tsy, members of the guilds purveying for our household, citizens of Moscow of all ranks, and residents of provincial cities . . . excepting the clergy (priests, deacons, and church attendants) and peasant tillers of the soil. The upper dress shall be of French or Saxon cut, and the lower dress and underwear-[including] waistcoat, trousers, boots, shoes, and hats- shall be of the German type. They shall also ride German saddles. [Likewise] the womenfolk of all ranks, including the priests', deacons', and church attendants' wives, the wives of the dragoons, the soldiers, and the strel'tsy, and their children, shall wear Western ["German"] dresses, hats, jackets, and underwear-undervests and petticoats-and shoes. From now on no one [of the abovementioned] is to wear Russian dress or Circassian coats, sheepskin coats, or Russian peasant coats, trousers, boots, and shoes. It is also forbidden to ride Russian saddles, and the craftsmen shall not manufacture them or sell them at the marketplaces. [Note: For a breach of this decree a fine was to be collected at the town gates: forty copecks from a pedestrian and two rubles from a mounted person. ]

 

The decree on the shaving of beards and moustaches, January 16, 1705:

A decree to be published in Moscow and in all the provincial cities: Henceforth, in accordance with this, His Majesty's decree, all court attendants . . . provincial service men, government officials of all ranks, military men, all the gosti, members of the wholesale merchants' guild, and members of the guilds purveying for our household must shave their beards and moustaches. But, if it happens that some of them do not wish to shave their beards and moustaches, let a yearly tax be collected from such persons: from court attendants . . . provincial service men, military men, and government officials of all ranks-60 rubles per person; from the gosti and members of the wholesale merchants' guild of the first class-100 rubles per person; from members of the wholesale merchants" guild of the middle and the lower class [and] . . . from [other] merchants and townsfolk-60 rubles per person; . . . from townsfolk [of the lower rank], boyars' servants, stagecoachmen, waggoners, church attendants (with the exception of priests and deacons), and from Moscow residents of all ranks-30 rubles per person. Special badges shall be issued to them from the Prikaz of Land Affairs [of Public Order] . . . which they must wear. . . . As for the peasants, let a toll of two half copecks per beard be collected at the town gates each time they enter or leave a town; and do not let the peasants pass the town gates, into or out of town, without paying this toll.