SANCHEZ (SANCHES), ANTONIO RIBEIRO:
Russian court physician; born 1699; died in Paris 1783; member of a Marano family of Penamacor, district of Castello Branca, Portugal. Sanchez, with many coreligionists, escaped from the persecutions in Portugal and went to Holland, where he studied medicine at the University of Leyden. There he enjoyed the friendship of his professor, the eminent physician Herman Boerhaave,who formed a very high opinion of Sanchez's ability. When Empress Anna Ivanovna of Russia requested Boerhaave (1731) to send her a learned physician who would be competent to act as her medical adviser, he recommended Sanchez, who entered her service the same year. The empress was so pleased with Sanchez that she appointed him chief physician of the Cadets; and soon after he was elected member of the Imperial Academy of Science. In 1740, after the death of Anna Ivanovna, Sanchez was appointed, by the regent Anna Leopoldovna, physician to the young prince Ivan Antonovich. She had such confidence in him that even from Riga she sent to him for examination the prescriptions of the attending physicians.
At this time Sanchez had a large practise and many influential friends in St. Petersburg. He devoted his leisure hours to study, and accumulated a valuable collection of medical works. When the regency of Anna Leopoldovna ended, in 1741, and many statesmen and courtiers were replaced, Sanchez was retained as physician to the empress Elizabeth Petrovna. He enjoyed her favor, and maintained his reputation as one of the most skilful physicians in Europe. In 1744 Sanchez attended the princess Sophia Augusta, afterward Empress Catherine II., and, according to the statement in her "Memoirs," saved her from a dangerous illness. He was then elevated to the rank of councilor of state.
Three years later Sanchez was suddenly ordered to resign and to leave St. Petersburg. Officially he received his congé on account of illness. In the acceptance of his resignation Elizabeth praises his great skill as a physician and the honesty with which he had discharged his duties. Sanchez's dismissal astonished the court circle, especially as he was known never to have interfered in politics. He hastened to sell his property, and then went to Paris. His library, purchased by the empress, greatly enriched the medical department of the imperial library. The mystery of his dismissal gave Sanchez no rest, and soon after his arrival in Paris he wrote to the president of the Imperial Academy of Science, Count K. G. Razumovski, asking for an explanation. The latter, in turn, wrote to the chancellor Bestyuzhev; and from both letters it appears that the only reason for Sanchez's discharge was the fact that the empress, who hated the Jews, had been told that he professed Judaism.
When Sanchez learned this he resigned himself to the situation, and again devoted himself to the study and practise of medicine. He became very popular in the poorer quarters of Paris; but work among the poor, whom he treated gratuitously, ruined both his health and his finances. Some of the Russian dignitaries, who corresponded with him, considered it their duty to aid him; and Catherine II. was induced to grant him a life pension of 1,000 rubles annually (1762).
Sanchez was the first medical writer to acquaint the physicians of Europe with the medical value of the Russian vapor-baths, through his work "De Cura Variolarum Vaporarii Ope apud Russos" (Russian transl. "O Parnykh Rossiskikh Banyakh," St. Petersburg, 1779). He was the author also of "Sur l'Origine de la Maladie Venerienne" (Lisbon, 1750).
- Richter, Gesch. der Medicin in Russland, vol. iii., passim;
- Russki Arkhiv, 1864, p. 386; 1870, p. 280;
- Razsvyet, 1888, No. 16.