LINSCHOTEN, Jan Huyghen van

LINSCHOTEN, Jan Huyghen van. Haarlem 1563 — Enkhuizen 8.2.1611. Dutch Traveller. Born in a Roman Catholic family (son of a public notary), grew up in Utrecht, then was sent to the Spain in 1679 in the age of 16 in order to learn commerce. There he joined the retinue of the new Archbishop of Goa, Vincente de Fonseca, and in April 1583 left for India. In 1583-89 in India (mainly Goa), after the death of the Archbishop returned to the West. After a forced delay of three years in Tercera (Azores), he came in 1592 to Lisbon and soon returned to the Netherlands. In 1594 and 1595 he participated the Polar Sea voyages of Barents (who attempted to use the North-East passage to reach India and therefore needed a specialist of India). From 1594 lived in Enkhuizen, first as free author and from 1597 as treasurer of the town.

He wrote a famous account of Asia and its trade based on his travels and information collected from others. It has been called one of the best 16th century accounts of India. It is mainly dealing with the Portuguese India on the verge of decline and his own experiences there, but it also includes an account of the whole Asia and its sailing routes as far as Japan. In fact, he seems to have revealed much information which the Portuguese wanted to keep secret and he became important guide for the subsequent Dutch and English ventures in Asian waters.

Publications: Reys-Gheschrift van de Navigatien der Portugaloysers in Orienten, 1595, and Itinerario. Voyage ofte Schipvaert … naar Oost ofte Portugaels Indien. 1596, soon translated into English (1598), German (1598), Latin (1599) and French (1610), and republished several times by Linschoten-Vereening (e.g. by H. Terpstra. 1955-57).

Beschryvinghe Van de gantsche Custe van Guinea enz. 1596; ed. by C. P. Burger Jr. and F. W. T. Hunger, Linschoten-Vereening 39, 1934

Voyagie ofte Schipvaert … van by Noorden om langes Noorwegen enz. tot voorby de rivier Oby. 1601; ed. by S. P. L’Honoré Naber, Linschoten-Vereening 8, 1914.

Sources: A. J. van der Aa, Biographisch Woordenboek der Nederlanden 4, Haarlem 1852; *W. J. van Balen, Naar de Indische wonderwereld met J. H. van Linschoten. 1942; S. P. L’Honoré Naber, Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek 4, Leiden 1918; Oaten 1909, 119-121; *C. McKew Parr, Jan van Linschoten, The Dutch Marco Polo. 1964; Wikipedia with portrait.

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