The History Of The Beard


From Charles Dawson Shanley's 1867 Atlantic article about hair:

At various periods beards were regulated by law. In 1533, Francis I. issued an edict ordaining that Bohemians, Egyptians, and other persons of that sort should be arrested, shaved, and committed to the galleys. It is said that the Parliament of Toulouse forbade the wearing of beards, and that, when a certain gentleman, furnished with a very long one, brought some claims before that body, he was told that they could not be entertained until he had shaven his face clean. Indeed, so much controversy took place at this time regarding the beard, that the learned doctor Gentien Hervet wrote a discourse upon the subject, which was printed at Orleans in 1536. He divided his discourse into three sections. The first maintained that all men ought to allow their beards to grow; the second, that all men ought to shave their beards off; and the third, that every man should do just as he pleases about his beard.

Twenty years later, beards were again much in vogue. They were worn in the swallow-tail cut now, and there were fan-tail beards to be seen also, as well as many other strange and grotesque devices in the arrangement of the facial hair. A great variety of unguents for the beard were also brought into use at this time, all of different colors and perfumes. The beard, at this period, was generally made up at night, and placed in a bag to prevent it from getting out of form. It became the proper thing now, in France, to carry a small brush for the purpose of arranging the mustache, an office which ladies would sometimes perform for their beaux, and great value was attached to a mustache that had been put in form for the wearer by some fair hand.