Jan Huygen

The Itinerario

Van Linschoten was a Dutch merchant who joined service under the Portuguese archbishop of Goa. Portugal was then the dominant power in Europe’s trade with Asia, and Goa was a Portuguese territory. During his time there, Van Linschoten not only made notes on the life and culture of the place but also meticulously copied confidential maps, charts and other data owned and compiled by the Portuguese over their almost 100-year presence in the region. This data was a trove of vital information on maritime commerce as well local sea navigation, including currents, islands and obstructions, all of which was published in the Itinerario in 1596. Armed with this knowledge, the Dutch VOC was able to make successful trading inroads into India, and eventually take over from the Portuguese.