In 1789, Friedrich Schiller gives his inaugural lecture as professor of history in Jena on the topic of universal history. The lecture depicts the present moment as the result of a long chain of historic causes that represents the teleological movement of universal history. While he is giving his lectures, the French Revolution begins. But the historic event that seems at first to be the culmination of a universal progress is soon reinterpreted by Schiller as a failure. How then does universal history cope with this failure? A singular event seems to challenge the assumption of history as a universal medium of progress. This chapter embeds the most prominent text on universal history in the German tradition into its German and European context. It then explores the hypothesis that Schiller’s historical dramas—some of them written on topics Schiller also studies as a historian—are the place where he works through the crisis of the French Revolution, juxtaposing the early play Don Karlos and the enthusiasm for Enlightenment ideals reflected in a plot focusing on the history of the independence of The Netherlands from the Spanish crown with the late play Wallenstein, a meditation on hesitation and its historical and epistemological consequences. Wallenstein can be understood as an investigation not only of historical agency, but also into fundamental categories of universalizing historiography. That the field of universal history can be, as his lecture claims, a “rich source of the most noble joy for everyone without exception,” is a pedagogic goal more than a reality based on an anthropological foundation, i.e., a common humanity. Theater, therefore, is the place of an affective and exemplary universalization. Schiller’s theater can be understood as a response to the fact that the transparent self-evidence of universal history as integral knowledge is no longer given.