Around 1380, the Swedish Imperial Councillor and landowner Bo Jonsson, a member of the Grip family, who had acquired a number of estates in the Mariefred area, decided to build a castle here (strategically located on a small island).
During the following 150 years the castle had an eventful history. It was acquired by the Danish Queen Margarethe I, pledged to Count Hans von Ewersten (whose bailiff it quickly burned down in the course of the “Engelbrekt” uprising) and, after further changes of ownership, finally bequeathed to the nearby monastery, the Charterhouse Marienfred.
But about 30 years later it was again confiscated by the crown and in 1525 Gustav I. Wasa decided to move his permanent residence to Gripsholm. For this reason he had the castle extended and upgraded to a fortress.
The most significant change was the addition of the four mighty towers, which still characterise the face of the building today. One of them was eventually to serve Gustav as his residence.
After his death, the castle construction was continued by Erik XIV with long interruptions. Even then the castle was unsuitable as a defensive fortress; instead, it was used sporadically as a prison.
Between 1563 and 1567, for example, he had his brother Johann III and his wife Katharina Jagiellonica imprisoned here. In 1571, Johann locked up his deposed brother Erik and his family in the castle.
Finally, on 13 June 1573, Erik was taken out of captivity by Gustav Vasa’s son Karl, the future King Karl IX (officially because of necessary ceiling repairs).
It was also Charles who had the famous Imperial Hall built here, where today you can admire a full-length portrait of Gustav Wasa.
In the course of time, the palace was repeatedly altered and adapted to the prevailing spirit of the times, for example when Gustav III had the idea of building a private theatre here.
In the late 19th century, the last major restorations and alterations took place. However, when, in the course of these works, an attempt was made to reverse all the changes from around 1600 onwards, there was fierce protest and the project was dropped.
As a result, the castle was preserved as a masterpiece of architecture, reflecting several centuries of Swedish cultural history, and is now open to visitors.