Jan Huygen van Linschoten

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Jan Huygen van Linschoten
Fusta with the Portuguese Pavilion from a book by Jan Huygen van Linschoten
The Azores island of Terceira , hand-colored engraving from the Itinerario
Itinerario, Amsterdam 1596 (title page)
Map of Willem Barents' first voyage

Jan Huygen van Linschoten (* 1563 in Haarlem ; † February 8, 1611 in Enkhuizen ) was a Dutch merchant , author and explorer .


Linschoten was born in Haarlem and learned the trade from his brothers in Portugal and Spain . In 1581 he went to Portuguese India as secretary to the Archbishop of Goa , Frei Vicente da Fonseca , where he spent six years. There he dealt with the trade of Asian products and promoted it. His position gave Jan Huygen access to the secret documents including the sea charts of the Portuguese, which had kept them secret for over a century. He began to secretly copy these documents, breaking the trust placed in him.

In 1587 with the death of his patron, the Archbishop of Goa , during his trip to Lisbon to report to the Portuguese king, the adventure in India ended for Jan Huygens. He sailed towards Lisbon in January 1589 and passed the Portuguese naval base with a depot on the island of St. Helena in May 1589 .

The journey was interrupted by a shipwreck caused by English pirates, so Jan spent two years in the Azores . He landed in Lisbon in 1592 and then returned to his hometown of Enkhuizen.

With the support of the Amsterdam publisher Cornelis Claesz , who specializes in ship themes, geography and travel, Jan wrote the book Reys-gheschrift vande navigatien of the Portugaloysers in Orienten (travel report on Portuguese navigation in the Orient) in 1595 . The work includes a variety of sailing routes, not only for the routes between Portugal and India, but also between India, China and Japan.

Jan Huyghen also wrote two other books, in 1597 the Beschryvinghe van de gantsche custe van Guinea, Manicongo, Angola ende tegen over de Cabo de S. Augustijn in Brazil, de eyghenschappen des gheheelen Oceanische Zees (description of the whole coast of Guinea, Manicongo, Angola and to the Cape of St. Augustus in Brazil) and Itinerario: Voyage ofte schipvaert van Jan Huyghen van Linschoten naer Oost ofte Portugal India, 1579-1592 (travel report about the voyage of the sailor Jan Huyghen van Linschoten to Portuguese India 1596).

An English edition of the Itinerario appeared in London in 1598, and a German edition was also published in the same year.

After his return to Holland , Linschoten wrote two books (published 1595–96), about the route to the East Indies and about the products and products there. These books inspired the first Dutch expedition to the east under Cornelis de Houtman , which led to the founding of the Dutch East India Company and heralded the end of the Portuguese monopoly in the spice trade.

In 1594 Linschoten accompanied Willem Barents to the Arctic and in 1595 he went to Novaya Zemlya again with Barents . One of the reasons for these expeditions was to find a new route to China by land via the north. These trips, however, were to discover the north passage to India; a description appeared in 1601.

The Dutch Linschoten-Vereeniging is named after him.


  • Van Linschoten, Jan Huyghen. The Voyage of John Huyghen van Linschoten to the East Indies , Elibron Classics, 2001, 368 pages, ISBN 1-4021-9507-9 , Replica of 1885 edition by the Hakluyt Society, London
  • Van Linschoten, Jan Huyghen. Voyage to Goa and Back, 1583–1592, with His Account of the East Indies  : From Linschoten's Discourse of Voyages, in 1598 / Jan Huyghen Van Linschoten. Reprint. New Delhi, AES, 2004, xxiv, 126 p., $ 11. ISBN 81-206-1928-5 .

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