In this study of the reign of James II of Scotland, the king is viewed in the context of the Stewart monarchy, from his struggles to overcome his early adversity and the legacy of his father's style of kingship, to the serious political crises of his reign. The relations between the king and his subjects, and the complex balance of power in medieval Scotland are examined, particularly the significant crisis precipitated by James II's attack on the Black Douglases, the greatest of all late medieval magnate families. The changing nature of political involvement among the nobility and the role of Parliament in influencing events are explored, as are the efforts of the king to recover and promote royal authority in the final years of his reign. The role of James II in the wider European context is also studied with a view to shedding light on contemporary perceptions of the Stewart monarchy both at home and abroad. The study is based on contemporary chronicle and official sources, and consideration is also given to later, highly coloured views of James II, which have influenced popular views of the king to the present day.