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.
Eventually 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.
Nobody 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.
Gustav 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.