This week, Henry III’s court moved from Worcester to Woodstock, where the king celebrated Christmas. It would seem that the arrangements for the feast were more lavish than usual: the sheriff of Oxfordshire supplied 30 oxen, 100 sheep, five boars and nine dozen fowls; salted venison was brought from Wiltshire; salmon and lampreys were sent from Gloucester; six tuns of new wine were transported from Bristol, thirteen tuns from Northampton; and the bailiff of Woodstock provided charcoal and brushwood. In all, purchases for the feast amounted to £205, more than double what Henry had spent the year before. Christmas robes would be provided for lord Edward’s wife, Eleanor, and her household. While the king was at Woodstock, he also ordered repairs for the wall of the park and his chaplains’ chamber, as well as the planting of 100 pear saplings. (CLR 1260-67, 152-66; Wild, ‘A captive king’, TCE XIII, 49; Close Rolls 1264-68, 8)
At Woodstock, there was yet another attempt to order the northern royalists to come to the king, with the assurance that the northern leaders loyal to Simon de Montfort would not molest them; this was linked to the promise of discussions about the liberation of lord Edward, who would not be required as a hostage now that peace had been restored. At the same time, de Montfort was given still more power and privilege. Porchester castle was committed to him; lord Edward was said to have granted to him the county, castle and honour of Chester; and the earl of Derby was instructed to deliver the castle of the Peak to de Montfort. (CPR 1258-66, 397-8)
According to one chronicle, while Henry held Christmas solemnly at Woodstock, Simon de Montfort celebrated in his own castle of Kenilworth, surrounded by many knights. He was said to have at least 140 paid knights in his household (another chronicle gives the number as 160), with many more, devoted to him, who joined him when he went to war. Fortune smiled on everything he did, and the whole of England, apart from the far north, was subject to him. Everything in the kingdom was controlled by de Montfort, and the king could do nothing without his supervision. (Flores, II, 504; Rishanger, in Ypodigma Neustriae, 537)
This is where we have to leave the year 1264, with Simon de Montfort at the peak of his success. He ruled the country, having defeated the king’s army, deterred the threat of invasion, withstood the threats of the papal legate, and finally imposed peace on the barons of the Marches. The king was his puppet, the heir to the crown his hostage. Representatives of the nobility, church, counties and towns had been summoned to the parliament which would meet in January 1265, to endorse the new regime’s programme, as set out in the Provisions of Westminster. The events of Christmas week, however, show the weaknesses of this apparent triumph. The royalists of the north continued to disregard de Montfort’s instructions. Magnates like the earl of Derby were being pushed aside. De Montfort and his family were appearing increasingly greedy and arrogant, monopolizing power and the spoils of victory. De Montfort was making enemies, and when lord Edward escaped from captivity, he was soon able to assemble the army which would defeat de Montfort at Evesham in August 1265.