Shaving Russia

History repeats itself this week with an episode from the HISTORY This Week archives: Sept 5, 1698. Tsar Peter the Great of Russia returns home from a year-long European tour. When noblemen, religious figures and friends gather to welcome him home, Peter pulls out a straight razor, holds it to their throats, and…forcibly shaves their beards. This event will go down in history as a first step towards Russian geopolitical power. Before Peter’s reign, Russia was an isolated nation that was largely ignored by the rest of the world. How did Peter the Great almost single-handedly drag Russia onto the world stage? And how did his great beard-shaving endeavor lead to the Russia we know today?

Special thank you to our guest Lynne Hartnett, Ph.D., professor of History, Villanova University and Understanding Russia: A Cultural History.


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