This special issue is devoted to a subject that has experienced a remarkable transformation during the last sixty years. In the 1960s, as work on virtually every period in German history after 1800 flourished in the English-speaking world, almost no attention was paid to the Holy Roman Empire. As Tim Blanning recently recalled, when he became interested in German history before 1800 as a student at Cambridge in the 1960s, there was no body of English-language research on the subject and little interest in creating one.1 That was true particularly of the early modern period, but medieval German history fared little better. The comments found in the most popular surveys of German history, A. J. P. Taylor’s The Course of German History and Geoffrey Barraclough’s The Origins of Modern Germany, were not encouraging.2 Blanning’s study of Mainz in the eighteenth century was very much a pioneering work when it appeared in 1974.3 That German History can publish a special issue devoted to the Holy Roman Empire and that the editors find themselves spoilt for choice in selecting contributors is testimony to the extraordinary profusion of work on the Empire that is now being pursued. The publication of three major works on the Empire by U.K.-based historians since 2012 also underlines its significance as a topic of research in the English-speaking world.4 This has all unfolded in the context of important changes in attitude to the Holy Roman Empire among German scholars. Since most of the work that has been done on the Empire in the English-speaking world both reflects and responds to German scholarship some account of those changes is essential.