MAGNATE DEBTS TO EDWARD I AND EDWARD Pfev MAGNATE DEBTS TO EDWARD I AND EDWARD III A STUDY OF COMMON PROBLEMS AND CONTRAST^ ROYAL REACTIONS TO THEM THE origins of the developments discussed in this article go back to the period of the personal rule of King Henry III (1234-1258). Unlike his father, King John, who had enforced ruthlessly the collection of debts due to him, not sparing most of the magnates, Henry III was easy-going in his dealings with his leading subjects. He neither had the power nor the inclination to treat them harshly. He normally allowed them to pay their debts by moderate annual instalments and frequently pardoned much of what they owed.2 Hence- forward any debt that a magnate particularly resented was likely to remain unpaid for ever. Edward I did try to reverse this trend, especially after 1289, but at a heavy political cost of simmering feuds with his leading subjects. His grandson, Edward III, returned to the more tolerant ways of Henry III and went beyond them in pardoning a large number of past debts. Henry's reign witnessed also a far-reaching change in the recruitment and position of sheriffs. Important notables only rarely held that office after 1240 and its financial rewards were much diminished as the result of the reforms carried out between 1236 and 1242. Most of the royal lands were then removed out of the custody of the sheriffs. Thereafter they were recruited either from among local knights or else were professional administrators permanently connected with royal service but of no high personal rank. These men found it much harder, even dangerous, to put effective pressure on magnates in collecting debts due from them, as in everything else. The highly disturbed period between the resumption of Henry's personal rule in August 1265 and the return of Edward I from his crusade nine years later witnessed a return to the employment as sheriffs of magnates or officials closely connected with the king.3 Edward I resumed in 1278 a system of sheriffs recruited from among the gentry of their native shires, but this time there was no continuation of using professional administrators. 'It was a change that was to prove permanent. For the most part the sheriffs who held office from 1278 onwards were the "loyal men and sound landholders* each of them, "a vavasour of that same county" whom the Provisions of Oxford of 1258 had demanded'. Edward still hoped to control effectively the leading magnates, and this article will survey some of his attempts to do so, but the weakening of the personal power and authority of the sheriffs facilitated 'the remorseless extension of magnate influence over the institutions of the local government and justice."