Forced shaving of beards and shortening of caftans
At the end of the XNUMXth century, Russia lagged far behind Europe, which was increasingly moving forward. In Europe, Russia was considered a country not only backward, but also wild. Rumors about her there were the most incredible and often false.
But what was Russia really like at the end of the XNUMXth century, before the start of the reforms of Peter the Great?
Let's start with society.
People were too religious: almost everything they did was closely related to religion. Russians hated and despised people of a different religion, and betrayal of faith was considered the worst sin. Foreigners were considered heretics. However, foreigners also reciprocated, calling all Orthodox "schismatics" (a hint that they are guilty of splitting Christianity).
More than 95% of the country's population lived in rural areas. The life of the peasants in the countryside was monotonous. They worked for themselves and the landowner, went to church, and often abused alcohol in their free time. There was even a proverb:
"If a person does not drink, then he is either sick or a scoundrel."
Most of the Russian peasants in that period were not as poor as they often say. In Europe at that time, for example, having a cow was considered a sign of prosperity, and in Russia, if a peasant did not have a cow, then he was considered poor.
Everyone in Russia had their own housing. But despite this, the streets were filled with beggars begging. And often these "beggars" made good money on this, because according to Orthodox traditions, not giving alms was considered a terrible sin.
All segments of the population had a beard cult, according to which shaving a beard was considered a sin. This cult was supported and spread by the church. The priests claimed: shaving the beard is the most vile and shameful deed. God created us in his own image and likeness, and to violate this likeness is a mortal sin.
Excess weight commanded respect and was a sign of beauty for both men and women. Therefore, Princess Sophia, who was full, was described by foreigners as terrible and unattractive, and Russians as a beauty. A fat man with a long beard and a long caftan was considered an ideal.
Wealthy nobles were not ashamed of luxury: a more or less wealthy nobleman traveled in an expensive carriage drawn by at least six horses.
As for the tsar, under Mikhail Fedorovich or Alexei Mikhailovich it was considered a matter of national importance if the tsar left the Kremlin to visit the Kolomna or Moscow region monasteries. Therefore, the behavior of Peter, who visited the Kremlin only in case of emergency, caused grumbling among the people. The people became even more indignant when Peter decided to go abroad with the great embassy, and when he returned, he walked in German clothes.
But much more discontent was caused by another measure of Peter: after returning from a trip, the king began to shave the beards of his entourage.
On August 26, 1698, the very next day after returning from abroad, Peter in Preobrazhensky met the boyars welcoming his return. Unexpectedly, the tsar ordered the scissors to be brought in and was the first to cut off the beard of the boyar and generalissimo Shein. The second to lose his beard was Prince Romodanovsky, who ruled the country in the absence of Peter. Then the turn came to all the other boyars.
Some considered this incident to be the wrath of the king or just a joke. But a few days later, a decree was issued according to which everyone should shave their beards. At first, Peter wanted to shave the entire country, except for the clergy. But shaving beards immediately caused protests among the townspeople and peasants. The nobles met this reform more humbly and soon parted with their beards.
Many were forcibly shaved: at the end of the XNUMXth and at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, soldiers could often be found on the streets of Moscow and other cities who forcibly cut their beards and shortened their caftans. Some nobles who did not want to part with beards for anything, they pulled out with meat.
Soon, Peter realized that the peasants, townspeople and merchants would by no means want to part with their beards. Therefore, he introduced a special tax on them. Now, in order to get the right to wear a beard, the merchant had to pay 100 rubles a year, nobles and officials - 60 rubles. The amount at that time was more than significant: for 100 rubles you could buy a stone house in Moscow. From the peasants for each entry and exit from the city they took 1 kopeck. Those who paid the tax hung a special sign around their necks with the inscription: "Money taken."
From that time until the end of the reign of Nicholas I, only the clergy, peasantry and merchants were allowed to wear beards in Russia. The purpose of such a drastic measure is obvious: Peter wanted to make Russians at least outwardly similar to Europeans.
In order to finally make the Russians look like Europeans, the tsar decided to introduce European clothes. Former Russian clothes were neither beautiful nor comfortable. On a shirt and trousers tucked into boots, the Russian nobleman put on first a zhupan, then a long caftan. The sleeves were long and wide. But it was home clothes.
For going out, a feryaz was also worn over the caftan, long and wide clothes made of velvet with the same wide sleeves. In the XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries, these clothes practically did not change for two centuries, such a thing as “fashion” did not exist at all before Peter.
Boyar clothes in the XNUMXth century
The new clothes introduced by Peter were fundamentally different from the old ones.
On January 4, 1699, the tsar signed a decree according to which boyars, courtiers and service people were forbidden to come to the Kremlin in ancient clothes. They were ordered to come in Hungarian caftans. By the summer, everyone was ordered to sew Saxon caftans for themselves.
A wig, introduced in Russia in 1700, was considered an indispensable attribute of a European costume. The wigs were of different shapes. At first they were tall, with long curls, but from 1715 their size gradually decreased.
Shoes have also been replaced. Instead of old boots, over the knee boots appeared, which were hard boots, in front they were above the knees, and in the back they had a deep cutout, which made it easy to bend the leg.
At the same time, the first ties appeared in the country - neckerchiefs. Women also began to wear European clothes - German dresses with corsets. Women's wigs were very different from men's, they were much more complicated, sometimes they even made a wig in the shape of a sailboat. They were smeared with bacon, powdered, and sometimes sprinkled with flour. It is clear that such wigs could not be comfortable, but they were still popular for a long time.
Having changed the appearance of the nobility and the service class, it was necessary to carry out deeper reforms. But even the change in appearance ran into fierce resistance from various segments of the population.
European fashion in the XNUMXth century
Russia of the 5th century was very different from Europe. There was even its own reckoning from the so-called creation of the world. It was believed that the world was created 508 years before our era. Consequently, the year 1699 according to the Old Russian chronology was 7 years from the creation of the world. In addition, the New Year was celebrated on September 207st. All this was adopted from Byzantium.
On December 20, 1699, by decree of Peter, the New Year was ordered to be celebrated, as in Europe, on January 1, and the chronology should be from the Nativity of Christ. The ritual of celebrating the New Year was also prescribed: after prayers in churches, everyone had to congratulate each other; homeowners were ordered to put a new decoration in front of the gate - Christmas trees, which were supposed to stand until January 7th.
During the fireworks and cannon firing on Red Square, everyone had to shoot their guns or set off their own fireworks. So in Moscow they completed the old 7207th and began the new 1700.
In 1699, Peter established the first Russian order - St. Andrew the First-Called. On March 20, the secretary of the Austrian embassy, Johann Korb, wrote in his diary:
"His Royal Majesty granted the boyar Golovin the first gentleman of this order and gave him the badge thereof."
The first Russian order had an enameled cross in the form of the letter "X". On such a cross, according to legend, the Apostle Andrew the First-Called was crucified. The knights of the order wore this cross on a wide blue ribbon over the right shoulder. The order included an eight-pointed star with a round central medallion, which also contained the image of the St. Andrew's Cross. There was an inscription around the circle - the motto of the order "For Faith and Loyalty". The first charter of the order, which was written with the direct participation of Peter, indicated to whom and for what he should be awarded:
“In retribution and rewarding for one for loyalty, courage and various services rendered to us and the Fatherland, and for others to encourage all noble and heroic virtues.”
Under Peter, 40 awards of this order took place, and at the same time no more than 12 Russians and 12 foreigners could be holders of the order. A candidate for the order had to have a princely or county title, be a general, minister, governor or foreign ambassador. The order could be given to governors for ten years of conscientious service. At the same time, all holders of the order must be at least 25 years old.
Peter himself was awarded this order only the seventh in 1703 for capturing two Swedish ships. Subsequently, until the revolution of 1917, the order remained the highest in Russia. It was awarded to great military leaders, statesmen, as well as members of the imperial family and foreign monarchs. This order was later awarded even to Napoleon.
It is surprising that until the end of the XNUMXth century Russia remained a country where there were no orders and insignia in general. In the army, the main reward for a soldier was money, for military leaders - estates, villages, serfs.
The fate of the reforms
The first reforms of Peter, as we see, were superficial, there were still many reforms to be carried out: military, administrative, political, monetary, and many others. But even these first superficial reforms were of great importance for the life of the country.
Yes, the peasants were little affected by the reforms, they, as before, continued to wear their old habitual clothes and not shave their beards. They resisted all the innovations of Peter I: from digging canals between rivers to introducing a new chronology. The people said that Peter's reforms were contrary to Orthodoxy. Even the transfer of the New Year to January 1 did not suit everyone, people said: “God could not have created the earth on January 1, in the middle of winter!” What can we say about sending nobles to study abroad "to the heretics." And shaving beards, European clothes - all the more blasphemy in the popular imagination.
But Peter's reforms are not the only example in storieswhen everything new caused the rejection of the masses.
Another example is the baptism of Rus' by Prince Vladimir. Then the pagans would never want to accept a new faith unknown to them, so Christianity was often planted by force, whether anyone wanted it or not. And for seven centuries, Russian princes and tsars tried so hard to make their people Orthodox that by the XNUMXth century, religion practically turned into superstition, and almost everything in people's lives was closely connected with it.
Nevertheless, all these and many other reforms were necessary for Russia, and the masses nevertheless eventually accepted them, albeit belatedly.
Quite justified criticism here can only be caused by the methods by which they were carried out. Sharp, fundamental innovations, changes in lifestyle have always provoked resistance from the population. But if the reformer was right, then in the end everyone accepted his changes. Time is the fairest judge, and in the end it showed Peter was right.