Peter Forsskal: Thoughts on Civil Liberty
In 1759, Peter Forsskål published a pamphlet, printed by Lars Salvius, calling for civil liberties.
The publication was recalled on the day of its publication and soon after was banned; those who were found to have a copy were liable to a very signficant fine, equivalent to two years salary for a ship's captain.
Nevertheless, the text did circulate and contributed to access to information and the abolition of prior censorship which was established in 1766 by law in Sweden.
Forsskål’s pamphlet is now published for the very first time in an English translation (as well as other languages), together with the original version of the Swedish text, without the censor’s changes.
Click here for translations of the pamphlet..
To read about Salvius click here.
First Edition
A list of the location of surviving copies of the first edition of Thoughts on Civil Liberty (Tankar om borgerliga friheten) and a list of modern editions and translations has been compiled by David Shaw. The list can be found here.
Gunilla Jonsson has produced a list of printed editions of the 1759 pamphlet which can be found here.
Second Edition
The second edition of Peter Forsskål's Tankar om borgerliga friheten 1792...
Who published it?
Click here to find out more.
Recent Events:
'Press Freedom 250 Years Freedom of the Press and Public Access to Official Documents in Sweden and Finland – a living heritage from 1766' has now been published in English. Chapter 2 is entitled 'Peter Forsskål – the freedom to write and the Principle of Public Access to Official Documents, by Ere Nokkala; chapters 1 and 12 are by members of Project Forsskal, Jonas Nordin and Helena Jaderblom.
25 September 2017
The prestigious Litteraturbanken is the website for reliable digital versions of Swedish classics, see
On 25th September 2017, it published a range of texts by and about Peter Forsskal in Swedish and English, see:
Please note that Project Forsskal took this opportunity to slightly revise and improve some of the texts as they had appeared on this website.
The Legacy of Peter Forsskål - 250 Years of Freedom of Expression (Nordicom 2017)
Editors: Ulla Carlsson, David Goldberg
Last year Sweden’s Freedom of the Press Act, the first legislation of its kind in the world, celebrated 250 years. ‘The Legacy of Peter Forsskål. 250 Years of Freedom of Expression’, sheds light on the history of free speech based on Peter Forsskål and his 21 theses on civil liberty.
Click here for details
Forsskål’s Mandate: 250 years of Freedom of Information Seminar
2 May 2016, Helsinki
Click here for details
Project Forsskal invited to present at seminar in Budapest on background to the 1766 Ordinance on Freedom of Writing and the Press - 13 April 2016
Click here for details
The Gedenktafel for Peter Forsskal - 06 November 2015
Click here for details
The Fourteenth Congress of the International Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, Rotterdam, July 27 - 31st 2015
For further details please click here.
Events held on 22nd April 2015 at the residence of the Finnish Ambassador to Serbia and on 23rd April at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade to launch the Serbian translation of Tankar om Borgerliga Friheten/Thoughts on Civil Liberty.
22/23 April 2015
Serbian launch
For further details please click here.
Italian translation of Tankar, Pensieri sulla libertà civile, by Elisa Bianco, published by Liberilibri, launched in Rome
11th October 2013
Rome Event
For further details please click here.
Peter Forsskål 1732 - 1763
250th Anniversary of Peter Forsskål's Death
An article marking the anniversary in the Swedish publication Svenska Dagbladet can be found here.
Forsskål at Georg-August-Universitat, Göttingen
Peter Forsskål spent from October 1753 to June 1756 at the University and in June 1756 was made a a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences, Göttingen.
Click here for more details.
For a Census of Copies of Forsskål's 'Dubia De Principiis Philosophiae Recentioris' compiled by David Shaw please click here.
Who are we?
Meet the team behind this project.
Finding out more...
Family background of Peter Forsskål
Differences between the original manuscript of Forsskål's Tankar om borgerliga friheten and the printed editions of 1759 and 1792
For resources and links to further reading, click here.
Celebrating Peter Forsskål's life

SwSwedish Embassy




Hosted by the Ambassador of Sweden H.E. Ms Nicola Clase and the Ambassador of Finland H.E. Mr Pekka Huhtaniemi the discussion and subsequent reception attracted a diverse audience of lawyers, journalists, academics, researchers, botanists, librarians, zoologists and diplomats

Click here.

Book launch
18th November 2009

Book launch event on the 250th anniversary of the orginal publication at the Old Parliament in Stockholm on November 18th 2009.

Click here.

Letters which refer to the banning of Forsskal's Thoughts on Civil Liberty:
Links by kind permission of The Linnaean Correspondence
Sten Hedberg, PhD (Latin); participant in the Linnaean Correspondence project as editor and translator; assistant director (retired) Uppsala University Library
For all Forsskal's letters to Linneaus see here:
The process for accessing the letters is:
Go to
Click on "Letters"
Go to "Written by"
Scroll down for Forsskal Peter
Highlight the name and click on Submit.Search
This brings up the 28 letters
The editorial team at the Linnaean Correspondence at the Centre for the History of Science at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Web Design by New Digital Fronter - For all website enquiries please contact the Webmaster