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 Spain in 1679 in the age of 16 in order to learn commerce. After a few years in Valencia 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, but also visiting South India. After the death of the Archbishop he 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 aboard). From 1594 lived in Enkhuizen, first as free author and from 1597 as treasurer of the town. Married 1595 Reynu Seymens.

Linschoten wrote his famous account of Asia and its trade based on his own 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. 147+8 p. Amsterdam 1595, and Itinerario. Voyage ofte Schipvaert … naar Oost ofte Portugaels Indien. +160 p. Amsterdam 1596, both 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. 82 p. Amsterdam 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. Franeker 1601; ed. by S. P. L’Honoré Naber. Linschoten-Verlening 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; K. Karttunen, Literature of Travel and Explor. 2, 2003, 726f.; *C. Koeman, Revista de universidade de Coimbra 32, 1985, 27-47; Oaten 1909, 119-121; *C. McKew Parr, Jan van Linschoten, The Dutch Marco Polo. 1964; Wikipedia with portrait.

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