The Swedish Freedom of the Press Ordinance, Stockholm (1766)

Source: Kongl. Maj:ts Nådige Förordning, Angående Skrif- och Tryck-friheten. Gifwen Stockholm i Råd-Cammaren then 2. Decembr. 1766. Tryckt uti Kongl. Tryckeriet.

The Swedish Freedom of the Press Ordinance, Stockholm (1766), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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            Chapter 1 Page 2 of 8 total

We, Adolf Fredrik, by the Grace of God King of Sweden and of Gothland and Wenden etc, etc, etc, heir to Norway and Duke of Schleswig, Holstein etc, etc, proclaim that we have given consideration to the great benefits a legal freedom of writing and of the press will bring to the public: unrestricted mutual information on all kinds of useful subjects not only promotes the development and spread of knowledge and practical crafts but also provides more numerous opportunities for all of Our loyal subjects better to know and appreciate a wise system of government. And since the press brings abuse and illegality to the notice of the public, its freedom may well be considered one of the best ways of improving morals and promoting obedience of the law. Thus we have found that earlier regulations on this topic are in need of correction and improvement in order to clear away ambiguity and the elements of coercion that are incompatible with their intended aims.

Thus, having heard the Estates of the Realm give a humble statement of their views on this matter, We have graciously decided that the existing office of Censor will now be completely abolished and, hereafter, the Chancellery will no longer have the duty of overseeing, approving or disapproving of written material intended for printing: subsequent to this gracious ordinance, which rescinds all earlier regulations on censorship, it is the authors themselves and the printers who will be responsible. With regard, however, to the import and sale of harmful books, it will be for Chancellery and the appropriate consistory to ensure that no forbidden and corrupting books are distributed, whether they be on theological matters or otherwise.

§. 1. No one is permitted to write or distribute by printing anything that conflicts with the confession of Our true faith and pure evangelical doctrine. Anyone convicted of such a deed is liable to a fine of three hundred daler in silver coin.

If the writings blaspheme against God, they are to be judged according to statutory law. In order to so much the better prevent the infiltration of heretical doctrines, all manuscripts that in any way touch upon doctrine and our articles of Christian faith should be examined by the nearest consistory. Should any printer venture to print and distribute such works without the written consent of the consistory – which consent should also be printed – the fine is to be two hundred daler in silver coin.


WI ADOLPH FRIEDRICH med GUDS Nåde, Sweriges, Göthes och Wendes Konung &c. &c. &c. Arfwinge til Norige samt Hertig til Schlesswig Hollstein, &c. &c. Gjöre witterligit, At tå Wi eftersinnat then stora båtnad Allmänheten af en rättskaffens Skrifwe- och Tryck-frihet tilflyter, i thet en obehindrad inbördes uplysning uti hwarjehanda nyttiga ämnen, icke allenast länder til Wettenskapers och goda slögders upodling och utspridande, utan ock gifwer en hwar af Wåre trogne undersåtare ömnigare tilfälle, at thess bättre känna och wärdera et wisligen inrättadt Regeringssätt; Äfwen som ock thenna frihet bör anses för ett af the bästa hjelpemedel till Sedernas förbättring och Laglydnadens befrämjande, tå missbruk och olagligheter genom trycket blifwa för Allmänhetens ögon ådagalagde; Så hafwe Wi i Nåder funnit the förre i thetta mål gjorde författningar tarfwa then behöriga rättelse och förbättring, at all twetydighet och ett sådant twång, som med thet påsyftade ändamålet ej bestå kan, måge utur wägen rödjas.

I sådant afseende, och sedan Wi häröfwer inhämtat Riksens Ständers underdåniga utlåtande, hafwe Wi i Nåder godt funnit, at thet tilförene inrättade Censors-Ämbetet, nu mera aldeles bör uphöra, samt ej eller Wårt och Riksens Cantzlie-Collegio hädanefter tilkomma, at öfwerse, gilla eller ogilla the til tryckning ärnade Skrifter, utan komma Authorerne sjelfwe, jemte Boktryckarne, för thet som i trycket utgifwes, efter thenna Wår Nådiga Förordning, hwarigenom the förra Stadgar om Censuren aldeles uphäfwas, at answarige wara; Dock hwad angår skadelige Böckers införande och försäljande på Boklådorne, förblifwer tilsynen theröfwer hädanefter hos Wårt Cantzlie-Collegium och wederbörande Consistorier, som äga theröfwer hand hålla, at ej någre förbudne och förföriska Böcker, antingen uti Theologiska eller andre ämnen, måge få utspridas.

§. 1. Ingen ware tillåtit något skrifwa eller genom trycket utgifwa, som strider emot Wår rätta Tros bekännelse och then rena Evangeliska Läran; Hwar, som thermed beträd:s, ware til tryhundrade Daler Silfwermynts böter förfallen.

Innehåller Skriften smädelse emot Gud, warde dömd efter Allmän Lag. Och på thet irrige lärosatsers insmygande thess bättre förekommas må, skola alla Manuscripter, som i någor [sic.] måtto angå Läran och wåra Christendoms-stycken, förut af närmaste Consistorio öfwerses, och ingen Boktryckare, wid Twåhundrade Daler Silfwermynts wite sig fördrista, at utan Consistorii påskrifne tillåtelse, hwilken ock tillika tryckas bör, sådane skrifter genom trycket utgifwa. 


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