6 Historical Beard Facts

Six historical beard facts - Beard facts I never knew.

As you probably know, facial hair is the ultimate accessory that can significantly change your appearance and take your confidence and personality to an entirely new level. However, in this article, I will talk about some of the most exciting beard facts throughout history that you probably haven’t heard of or thought were just myths. Let’s dive into the details!

Six Historical Beards Facts

I have included six historical beard facts below. This will help you “grow” your knowledge about history and, more importantly, beards. 

Was Abraham Lincoln the First US President to Wear a Beard?

Was Abraham Lincoln the First US President to Wear a Beard?

Yes, he was. Throughout the history of US presidents, Abraham Lincoln was the first to have sported a beard. However, in this presidential beard fact, the reason for growing a beard was even more interesting. He grew it because an 11-year-old girl wrote him a letter advising him that he would look better and more authoritative with a beard, mainly because he had a thin face. 

She saw him on the 1860 campaign trail without facial hair and mentioned that she didn’t like it and that growing a beard would help him get elected. Who knew that 11-year-olds could be that smart? 

It is also interesting that, in his response, Lincoln gave no promises. However, he allowed his beard to grow a month later.

In a different article with a list of funny beard facts, we look at an author that commented on how politicians should never abandon their razors. He should have read up on President Lincoln’s success while not shaving. Check out the post for more light-hearted and funny facts about beards.

Did the CIA Try to Chemically Get Rid of Fidel Castro’s Beard?

This historical beard fact might sound like a myth, but the CIA did try to get rid of Fidel Castro’s beard. According to a certain Senate Intelligence Committee report from 1975, the US government thought that messing with Fidel’s beard would mean messing with his power.

The CIA figured out that losing Fidel Castro’s beard would make him look weak and fallible to Cubans. They came up with the idea to use thallium salt, the chemical commonly found in products such as Nair and put it in Castro’s shoes or cigars. The chemical would then be absorbed or inhaled, which would cause his famous beard to fall out. They never succeeded.

There Was a Tax on Wearing a Beard?

Yes, there was. After his grand tour of Western Europe in 1697, Russian Tsar Peter the Great developed anti-beard sentiments. Apparently, the tour made him think that Russia is significantly behind the times in both economic and scientific terms.

It inspired him to undertake efforts towards modernizing the country, which as a consequence, led to the introduction of a beard tax a year later. His goal was to eliminate beards in Russia.

The amount people had to pay for wearing a beard varied based on the status of that man. Peasants had to pay two half-kopeks every time they entered the city, while Muscovites had to pay 30 rubles per year. Military, merchants, government, and townsfolk were charged 60 rubles annually, while wealthy merchants had to pay 100 rubles yearly.

Obviously, the resistance to going clean-shaven started to spread, mainly because most people believed it was a religious requirement. Believe it or not, Tsar had to empower police to forcibly and publicly shave those who didn’t want to pay the tax.

By paying the tax, people were required to carry a “beard token”. A few years later, in 1772, the beard tax was eliminated.

Was Wearing Fake (Gold) Beards Ever a Thing?

Yes, it was. Many Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt were known for wearing a false gold beard. Most theories are related to religion since the Egyptian god Osiris was, in ancient depictions, seen with an elaborate beard. Probably the Pharaohs wore fake beards to pay respect to him.

Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt wearing  Fake Gold Beards

Osiris appears in many surviving art pieces with a large brown beard, which seems to be distinctively synthetic. That’s why real-life pharaohs wore handmade beards intending to link themselves to the god’s eternal reign. Those beards were also often passed from one ruler to the next through generations.

To some degree, wearing a fake beard was a gender-blind trend. Some female pharaohs, such as Hatshepsut, wore fake beards to preserve the air of divinity that had been passed down to her. Some theories also state that the ancient Egyptians wore beards, fake or real, to assert power and dominance.

Who Invented the First Beard Care Products?

This historical beard fact finds the earliest records of people using beard oils dating back to ancient Mesopotamia, where people treated their beards with oil made from sesame seeds. Similar products were also used in ancient Greece, but instead of sesame seed oils, they used castor oils.

However, the first mass production of beard care products started in Great Britain. One of the first oils created for mass production was macassar oil, used by men and women. However, it was very thick and easily covered everything it got in touch with, such as a door handle, for example.

In the 20th century, much better alternatives became available since waxes and balms based on petrolatum became more popular.

Stroking Another Men’s Beard as an Invitation to a Duel?

In the middle ages, stroking the beard of another man was considered a very offensive gesture. In most cases, the gesture meant you wanted to challenge that person for a sword duel or simply a fight.

However, as we discovered in researching psychological facts about beards, a woman may be inclined to stroke a man’s beard, which is ok!

Historical Beard Facts – Wrap-up

Hopefully, you found these historical beards facts as interesting as I did while researching them. Keep these on hand for your next trivia night or just to impress a bearded friend.

We’ve found lots of funny and entertaining facts about beards. Is there a fear of beards? What do you think the highest value is of a beard? Do you think a real beard could be worth a million dollars? Check out more funny beard facts like these in our post.

We’ve researched and written another article with interesting psychological facts about beards and bearded men. Are men with beards better with babies? Are bearded men sexier? What do you think? We discuss these and more. Check it out!

Do you know some historical beard facts about beards that we didn’t mention above? Please let us know.

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