Germany's tragic history in the 20th century has often been attributed to its "peculiar" history: lacking a unified state and a single religion, Germany did not develop into a proper nation state in the model of its western neighbors, notably France and England. This history has been read back into the past, giving rise to the misconception that Germany were naturally authoritarian and warlike. However, a proper knowledge of Early Modern German history, from the Reformation to the Enlightenment, reveals a far more complicated picture. The theme of this course will be the tension between German diversity - linguistic, geographical, religious, social ¿ and the forces which kept the German people together- the loose confederation of semi-independent states known as the Holy Roman Empire, and the common commitment to the Christian Church. Each of the three centuries between 1500 and 1800 witnessed challenges that shaped the political and social world of the German peoples: the Protestant Reformation and the Peasant's War (1517-1555); The Thirty Years War (1618-1648); and the Wars of the French Revolution and the destruction of the Empire (1792-1815). Against this background of social and political transformation, we will explore major developments in German religion, culture (including visual culture), and philosophy. Lectures will address the major features of political, social, and religious history. A substantial portion of the course will be devoted to in-depth discussion of primary readings.