Successors of Peter the Great
1725 – 1762
Governors and physicians cooperate to improve medical care
The two-track policy for medical education of Peter the Great continued till the third quarter of the 18th century. Even Empres Catherina the Great (reign: 1762-1796) remained partly in these footsteps.

During the 18th century, 46 Russians or Russians with foreign roots studied in Leiden, where they were received their doctor medicinae degree. Of the graduated students, three studied in Leiden before the appointment of Herman Boerhaave, 11 during Herman Boerhaave's time and 32 after Boerhaave's death. Herman Boerhaave was a professor in Botany, Medicine and Chemistry at Leiden University. As Rector Magnificus (head of the University) he met in 1717 with Peter the Great. All the graduated students held high positions in Russia and played a crucial role in developing medicine. All kept contact with their former Leiden teachers and offered them vital functions at the Russian court or the Imperial Academy of sciences. For example, of the four Arkhiyaters and four General Directors appointed from 1716 till 1763, four were graduates of Leiden University.

Portrait of Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738)
Dutch physician, botanist and chemist. Professor and Rector Magnificus Leiden Universty. Oil on canvas, artist by Cornelis Troost, 1735. In.No.: P02634
© Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, Leiden, In.Nr.: P02634. In public domain
The Imperial Academy of Science
After the death of Peter the Great, his wife, Keizerin Catherine the First (reign: 1725-1727), continued her husband's work. The first meeting of the Academy of Science took place on 27 December 1725 in the presence of the Keizerin. In the end, it lasted two years before the official grand opening took place on 27 December 1726. The Academy of Science contained a gymnasium (grammar school) to prepare future students and a university with three faculties (law, medicine and philosophy). According to Peter’s request the Senate had established the Academy of sciences in January 1724, one year before his death. The Kunstkamera and the library were included in the Academy.
The first president of the Academy of Sciences was Laurentius Lavrentevich Blumentrost (1692-1755). He was the court-physician of Peter I and his successors. He had studied at Leiden University.

Portrait of Laurentius Lavrentevich Blumentrost
court-physician of Peter I and his successors. The first president of the Imperial Academy of Sciences

Portrait of Johannes Deodatus Blumentrost
became president of the Meditsinskaya Kantselyariya (Ministry of Health). Elder brother of Laurentius Blumentrost

In the years 1726 and 1727, more experienced doctors came to Russia and enrolled in the Academy. These also included his older brother Johannes Deodatus Blumentrost (1676-1756), who became president of the Meditsinskaya Kantselyariya (Ministry of Healthcare). He was a graduate of Leiden University as well.
The role of physicians trained in the Netherlands
The University of the Academy received students from its gymnasium and grant-aided students from religious, educational institutes, where Latin was taught. Latin was required since the education at the University was given in Latin by the invited foreign professors. The University contained a library, curiosities, an astronomical observatory, an anatomical theatre and a botanical garden.

Abraham Kaau-Boerhaave, the youngest nephew of Herman Boerhaave, became a member of the Imperial Academy of Science of St. Petersburg in 1744.

Portrait of Abraham Kaau-Boerhaave
Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at the Imperial Academy of Science in Saint Petersburg. Youngest nephew of Herman Boerhaave
At that time, he was still practising as a physician in The Hague. In 1746 he came to St. Petersburg, where he first got a position at the Admiralty hospital. In 1746 he was appointed Professor of Anatomy and Physiology. He had studied at Leiden University and enjoyed lessons, among others, from his uncle Herman Boerhaave. When Abraham Kaau-Boerhaave died in 1758 in Russia, he left eight manuscripts behind and a small collection anatomical malfomations.

In addition to eight manuscripts, Abraham Kaau-Boerhaave also left behind a small collection of prepared anatomical malformations.

These two original drawings were made by Abraham Kaay-Boerhaave of the misbirth. These are located in the fundamental library of the Military Medical Academy called SM Kirov.

© The Military Medical Academy named SM Kiorv

This malformation prepared by Abraham Kaay-Boerhaave is located in the “Kunstkamera”.

© Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography Peter the Great (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Also other well-known Dutch professors from Leiden were invited to become a member of the Imperial Academy, but they did not always accept the offered positions. Herman Boerhaave declined the invitation of Keizerin Anna Ivanovna. Also, Bernard Siegfried Albinus and Hieronymus Davides Gaubius thanked for the honour, but they have declined the offer.
One of the first native Russians appointed was Alexius Protassiev, a professor of Anatomy at the Academy of Science. He had first studied in Leiden and afterwards anatomy at the Imperial Academy of Science. He specialised in this subject, and his teacher and Maecenas was Abraham Kaau-Boerhaave. Another Russian who became a member of the Imperial Academy was Mikhail V. Lomonosov, who was appointed professor of chemistry. He had studied in Marburg, Germany. In 1754 Lomonosov developed a project for the first university in Russia. In a letter to Ivan I. Shuvalov, the chamberlain of the empress, he outlined his proposals on the structure and curriculum of the university.

Portrait of Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov
professor of chemistry at the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.
Inv.Nr.: ERZh-2646. Photgrapher Vladimir Terebenin, Leonard Kheifets.
© The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, 2021
The establishment of the first independent University
Keizerin Elizabeth the First (reign: 1741-1762), daughter of Peter the Great, took over the advice of Mikhail V. Lomonosov. On 24 January 1755, the Keizerin gave orders for the establishment of Moscow University. The University was headed by a Board of Governors, with two curators, Ivan I. Shuvalov, favorite chamberlain of the Keizerin; and Laurentius Lavrentevich Blumentrost president of the Academy of Sciences. Aleksei M. Argamakov, a member of the city council, was appointed as general director (later renamed to Rector Magnificus). The first generation of professors had Russian roots or were Russians of foreign origins. They were trained at the Bidloo school or the University of the Academy of Science and had obtained their Doctor Medicinae Degree at Leiden University.

Portrait of Keizerin Elizabeth Petrovna (1709 - 1761)
oil on canvas, 1760, French School
Charles-André van Loo (1705-1765), Photographer - V.S. Korolev. ID GMZ Peterhof: GMZ Pf KP 6902 PDMP 858-zh.
© The Peterhof State Museum-Reserve, 2021

View of Moscow University from the Neglinka River

After a fire in 1812, the building was rebuilt by the architect Gilardi. In public domain

Front page of the dissertation of Semyon G. Zybelin
first Russian professor at the medical faculty of Moscow University.
He obtained his doctorate from Leiden University in 1764.
In public domain
Semyon G. Zybelin was the first Russian professor in the medical faculty of Moscow University. He had graduated in 1758 at Moscow University in Philosophy. Subsequently, he studied at the Imperial Academy of Science for some time, but he received a doctorate in medicine in Leiden in 1764. Zybelin taught theoretical medicine at Moscow University. Several medical teachers were appointed, such as Mikhail à Skiadan, Theodor Kurika, Theodor Politkovsky. All of them have PhDs in medicine from Leiden University and have provided a steady stream of well trained doctors in Russia.
The Portuguese António Nunes Ribeiro Sanchez was a graduate of Leiden and a pupil of Herman Boerhaave. Sanchez was appointed as the personal physician of Keizerin Anna Ivanovna (1730-1740). On his recommendation, Herman Kaau, the oldest nephew of Herman Boerhaave, was invited to become the court physician of the Keizerin. Herman Kaau-Boerhaave accepted the invitation and travelled to St. Petersburg with his family at the end of 1741.
In 1744 Herman Kaau-Boerhaave became a member of the state council. On 7 December 1748, Keizerin Elizabeth Petrovna the First also the Great (reign: 1741-1762) appointed him as a member of the Privy Council, as first personal physician and General Director of the Meditsinskaya Kantselyariya. He died in Moscow on 7 October 1753, and on the express order of the Keizerin, his body was interred in a vaulted crypt in the Old Dutch Church in Moscow. The remains of Hermann Kaau-Boerhaave were moved to a cemetery in Moscow on 20 May 1815, when the Old Church was moved.

Portrait of Herman Kaau-Boerhaave
was the first personal physician of Elizabeth the Great and general director of the Meditsinskaya Kantselyariya. He was the eldest cousin of Herman Boerhaave.

Library of the Medico-surgical Academy in Saint Petersburg,

nowadays Military Medical Academy named SM Kirov.

© Military Medical Academy named SM Kirov

Pavel Zakharievich Condoidi (1710-1760) of Greek roots travelled from Russia to Leiden to study medicine. He was a pupil of Herman Boerhaave. Condoidi graduated as a doctor in 1733. On his return to Russia, he initially worked as a military doctor, and later as a general staff physician. As an honorary member of the Imperial Academy of Science, he succeeded Herman Kaau-Boerhaave in 1753 as General Director of the Meditsinskaya Kantselyariya. A post he held from 1753 until he died in 1760. During his tenure, he introduced a curriculum of seven years and a new examination system. This system introduced physiology, obstetrics, women's and children's diseases into the medical education curriculum. Another achievement was the establishment of the first Russian Library of Medicine in 1756.

Portrait of Pavel Zakharievich Kondoidi
As a student of Hermann Boerhaave, he received his doctorate from Leiden University in 1733. In 1753 he was appointed general director of the Medical Chancellery.
Further professionalisation of medicine
Keizerin Elizabeth the First (reign: 1741-1762) issued in 1756 a law that only doctors who had passed a qualifying exam and had been officially registered by the Meditsinskaya Kantselyariya were allowed to practice medicine. Now it was expressly forbidden to provide any oral drugs without the signature of a qualified doctor. The practice of medicine was now forbidden to non-qualified doctors (folk healers). The Meditsinskaya Kantselyariya distinguished between scientifically trained foreign doctors (Doctor Medicinae) and empirically trained doctors. The first group were doctors who had completed postgraduate studies of which their research culminated in a scientific thesis, after their initial medical training. The second group was referred to as barber-surgeons. This distinction was also reflected in the salaries.
The establishment of midwifery schools
It was Peter the Great who, on Nicolaas Bidloo's advice, ordered to invite many barber-surgeons but also midwives to come to Russia. In 1711 and 1718, two trained midwives worked in imperial Russia. One of the midwives accompanied the German princess, the wife of Tsarevich Alexei. The other was the Dutch lady Van Husen. The latter one was held in high regard by the Dutch establishment and many foreigners.

Two midwives oversee a childbirth in northern Europe

Two centuries later, the situation has hardly changed.

Eucharius Rösslin's "Rosengarten" printed in 1513, Accompanying text by Gustav Klein, Carl Kuhn, Munchen 1910. In public domain

Nicolaas Bidloo had, in addition to his hospital school, a midwifery practice. He worked closely with Capitainin Engelbrecht (wife of the captain) for 20 years. She had completed her training in Amsterdam, and in all probability, with Frederik Ruijsch. Not only was he an anatomist, but in 1668 he was appointed as “reader to the midwifes” of the city. His task was to organise training for midwives. From 1679 the Amsterdam midwives were obliged to attend his classes in order to increase their knowledge. In the Netherlands, it became mandatory to pass an exam to practice the profession of midwife. During her career, Capitainin Engelbrecht assisted in giving birth to more than 1500 children in Amsterdam, Moscow and St. Petersburg. She was scientifically educated, well-read and had knowledge of anatomy. In 1740, on request of Keizerin Anna Ivanovna, Mrs Engelbrecht was appointed as Court Midwife in St. Petersburg. The reason for this appointment was the birth of a boy who later would become the baby-Emperor Ivan VI (Ivan Antonovich).

Until halfway through the 18th century, older women carried out midwifery without any formal training. This situation changed during the reign of Elizabeth the Great. From 1751 on, the Keizerin took the first steps to set up midwifery schools in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Together with her minister of healthcare, Pavel Condoidi, Elizabeth issued a decree in 1754 to establish decent midwifery for the benefit of the society. In 1757 in Moscow and St. Petersburg, were created midwifery schools, which trained professional midwives and women on obstetrics.
Epidemics are of all times
The Plague, also known as the Black Death, has been in Russia since the 14th century. The epidemic continued in waves. In addition, leprosy, syphilis (venereal disease), smallpox and measles occurred. Precautions were taken to avert the terrible Plague. Peter the Great established military posts along the roads to prevent traffic and trade flows on pain of death. This also applied to foreign trade, although this caused problems for good trade relations. Quarantine was also instituted with the risk of the death penalty if people from outside were allowed in. Travellers had to be stopped, interrogated and monitored. The clothes of the sick had to be burned. The rest and the houses had to be aired for two weeks and then smoked with wormwood (alsem) for another three days. Entire cities were deserted and destroyed.

Plague Doctor, photographer Kirill Bialiatsky, 2021.

© From the collection of the Military Medical Museum, St. Petersburg

When the Plague threatened to break out again in 1737, Keizerin Anna Ivanovna, in collaboration with the Meditsinskaya Kantselyariya, undertook far-reaching measures but could not completely prevent the spread of the Plague.

Keizerin Elizabeth Petrovna the First also contributed. She issued measures to prevent contamination and reduce the death toll from smallpox. In 1755 she appointed a Doctor Medicinae and two surgeons to treat and cure smallpox and measles, and other diseases with cold sores. In the years that follow, actual action was taken to combat smallpox through vaccination.
She also took all kinds of measures against the animal disease that broke out in 1756. The Keizerin was assisted in this by Prof. Abraham Kaau-Boerhaave, who worked at the Academy of Sciences. Kaau-Boerhaave has expanded the existing measures further, based on its findings in the Netherlands. Autopsies of animals had show that their liver and spleen were inflamed. He prescribed a cure and measures suitable for that time.
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