Required all gentry to put their sons in school. He sent many abroad to study. He simplified the Russian alphabet. He edited the first newspaper to appear in Russia. He ordered the preparation of the first Russian book of ettiquete, teaching his subjects not to spit on the floor, scratch themselves, or gnaw bones at dinner, to mix socially with women, take off their hats, converse plesantly, and look at people while talking. The beard he took as a symbol of Muscovite backwardness; he forbade it in Russia, and himself shaved a number of men at his court. He forced people to attent evening parties to teach them manners. He had no respect for hereditary aristocracy, torturing or executing the higborn as readily as the peasants. As for religion, Peter was described as a pieous man who enjoued singing in church, but he was contemptous of ecclestical dignity, and in one wild revel paraded publicl with drunken companions in religious vestments and mocking the priests. Like many revolutionists of his time, he was aggressively secular.