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Ribeiro Sanchez, Antonio

RIBEIRO SANCHEZ, ANTONIO (1699–1782), Marrano physician, born in Pernamacor, Portugal. Denounced to the Inquisition in 1726, apparently on flimsy grounds, he fled to London where he was circumcised without, however, joining the Jewish community. In 1731 he went to Russia, where in 1733 he became court physician to the empress Anna, being made a councillor of state. After the accession of the empress Elizabeth, his Jewish origin became known and he was dismissed and retired to Paris, where he worked among the poor. Although now out of sympathy with official Judaism, he wrote an important memorial, advocating the amelioration of the condition of the Portuguese New Christians and the restriction of the power of the Holy Office. In his opinion its severity was often responsible for arousing Jewish sympathies in New Christians formerly of unblemished orthodoxy. He was the first person to popularize in Western Europe the medicinal value of Russian vapor baths, and was a pioneer both in educational and in penal reform.


M. Lemos, Ribeiro Sanchez (Port., 1911).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.