When the Romans first came into contact with the Germans in the 1st century BC, they described the Germans as uncivilized barbarians who did not live in cities or even use coinage. Instead, the Germans were grouped into tribes, some small and some large, in which chieftains, priests, and warriors had political, spiritual, and military powers but otherwise were little distinguished from ordinary farmers and craftspeople. Once introduced to Roman culture, however, the Germanic tribes became far more hierarchical, embraced writing, and converted to Christianity. Furthermore, once the western half of the Roman Empire collapsed, Germanic tribes moved in to Rome's former provinces, including Italy, Spain, Gaul (France), and Britain, and established a handful of kingdoms that would eventually become western Europe as we know it today. In this class we will examine Germanic society in its pre-Roman period, the period of transformation in Germanic society that led to the creation of the early medieval Germanic kingdoms, and finally the creation of the Holy Roman Empire, an entity that would play a major role in the political and religious debates of the late medieval period and the Reformation era.