During the early Middle Ages Stockholm and its environs mainly
resembled an agricultural area with a nobleman's manor house (the
Palace) at its centre, surrounded by fields and meadows which
supplied its needs. The countryside around the palace therefore
consisted of open pasture and fields. Livestock grazed the pasture,
hay was harvested for the winters and fresh produce was transported
into the palace every day.
the palace needed more land to supply its wants and by the end
of the 13th century King Magnus Ladules had acquired the major
part of Djurgerden, which in those days was known as Valdemar
Island and belonged to the Catholic Church.
knows how old this name is. Iron Age burial sites have been found
on the island and they may have been close to a village of the
same name. King Valdemar may have given his name to the island.
The Church had admittedly been able to retain some of its rights
on Valdemar Island, but the seizure of Church property at the
beginning of the 16th century enabled Gustav Vasa to assume administration
of the entire island. He also acquired parts of what is now northern
Djurgerden, previously the property of the Klara Abbey and the
Friary on Helgeandsholmen.
Vasa had three royal barns on Djurgerden and he managed his considerable
holdings with an iron hand to secure that they were fully supplied
to provide for his own needs, for his kinfolk and for his dependents.
On the other hand, his sons, Erik XIV and, above all, Johan III
adopted the fashion of continental rulers by creating hunting
parks close to the towns in which their palaces were sited, and
this brings us to a new era in which the concept of Kungliga Djurgerden
(in English the Royal Deer Park) was established.