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Sunday, 13 May 2012



In the 5th century BC Athenian men began to wear shorter hair, cutting it in ritual offering to Hercules.

Beards, real and fake, remained popular until the reign in the 4th century BC of Alexander the Great, whose soldiers had to shave their beards to avoid having them seized in hand-to-hand combat.

The renowned Scipio Africanus  Major (236-183 BC), conqueror of Hannibal in 202 BC affirmed the mode in his era for being clean-shaven. He was admired and copied by men throughout Rome and by neighbours.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian shocked his empire by introducing beards into Roman society at a time when the Romans had been mainly clean shaven. Hadrian grew a beard because he wanted to hide his poor complexion.

Archaeological discoveries suggest that Viking beards were combed, curled, trimmed, and occasionally even bleached blonde.

A decree issued in 1092 by which the ecclesiastical authorities forbade monks to grow beards.

In the Middle Ages the Swedish town of Hurdenburg elected its mayor by seeing which candidate’s beard was selected by a louse.

In the mid 14th century a new fashion sprang up amongst the Spanish aristocracy-every man sported an identical long, black false beard. Soon nobody knew who was who. Debtors escaped recognition by their creditors and villains hid behind cascades of hair while the innocent were led helplessly away to prison. Wives failed to recognise their hair- until it was too late & the market price of hair rose to astronomical heights. Finally King Peter of Aragon stepped in to halt the chaos and passed a law expressly forbidding the wearing of false beards in Spain. 

Henry VIII put a tax on beards in 1535, but made his own exempt.on. His daughter, Elizabeth. I of England, reintroduced the beard tax, taxing every beard of more than two weeks' growth

In the 16th century, after Francis I of France accidentally burned his hair with a torch, his male subjects started wearing short hair and trimmed their beards and moustaches.

In 1567, the man said to have the longest beard in the world died after he tripped over his beard running away from a fire.

Oliver Cromwell condemned the decadence of the cavalier's flowing hair, moustaches and beards. He believed beards were an icon of the bourgeois cavalier classes and as a result they were going out of fashion.

Tsar Peter I of Russia’s visits to the West impressed upon him the notion that European customs were in several respects superior to Russian traditions. The Tsar imposed on September 5, 1698, a tax on beards. All men except priests and peasants had to pay up to 100 roubles (a small fortune in those years) annually and carry around a copper or bronze token to show they had paid the tax. Peasants were allowed to wear beards in their villages, but were required to shave it off when entering the city or pay a one kopek coin for it.

Beards cane roaring back into fashion in the UK in the mid 19th Century. They had been banned in the army, but the freezing conditions endured  by troops during the Crimean War made shaving and impossible, so facial hair flourished  in the military. This helped to bring mutton chops and other forms of facial hair back into fashion.

On October 15, 1860, an 11-year-old girl, Grace Bedell, wrote Abraham Lincoln with a suggestion. He was running for the Presidency and she urged him to grow a beard. Lincoln was convinced and for the rest of his life he maintained facial hair.

The last US president to have had a beard was Benjamin Harrison, who left office in 1893.

Valentine Tapley from Pike County, Missouri grew chin whiskers attaining a length of twelve feet six inches from 1860 until his death 1910, protesting Abraham Lincoln's election to the presidency.

Of the 658 Members of Parliament in 1874, only two were beardless.

In the 1937 Disney animated movie Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, only one of the dwarfs doesn’t have a beard — Dopey. 

In 1955, the New York State Labor Department ruled that “there is nothing inherently repulsive about a Van Dyke beard.”

Under the Taliban, men in Afghanistan were required to grow beards at least four inches long.


Old Order Amish men don't wear wedding rings. Instead they grow their beards out. 

The average human beard, if left untended, will grow 14cm a year.

If a man never cut his beard, by the time he died it would be 27.5 feet long.

The longest ever beard was that of the Norwegian Hans Langseth. It measured 17ft 6in when he died in Kensett, Iowa, in 1927.

Beards can slow the aging process by stopping water from leaving the skin, keeping it moisturized.

Bjorn Borg had a no-shave rule at Wimbledon - he and his famous beard won the tournament for five consecutive years.

The video for Wham's "Last Christmas" was the last time that George Michael was filmed without a beard.

The only member of ZZ Top to not have a beard was the drummer . . . Frank Beard.

Blonde beards grow faster than darker beards.

The correct term for fear of beards is ‘pogonophobia’.

Sources That's Life (Octopus Books), Daily Express

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