The 5-course Baroque guitar was the most popular instrument among 17th century rich, mostly noble amateurs. The fashion was started by Louis XIV who got introduced to the instrument by his Italian teachers and who was an ambitious guitar player himself. The French fashion spread through Europe. His first sister-in-law and her brother, Charles II of England, played guitar, his second sister-in-law, the German Madame Palatine played the guitar. And Italian players went from court to court to play and to teach. From Forscarini 1640, Corbetta 1643, Bartolotti 1640 & 1655 and de Visée 1686 we have the most wonderful music in various styles.
Parisian luthiers, foremost the Voboam family, provided the most exquisite instruments for their wealthy clients. Exotic woods, ivory, mother of pearl and precious metals were combined to create musical and visual wonders.
The first instrument I learned to play as a child at age 8 was the Spanish guitar or concert guitar. Since then I'm in love with plucked strings. My hero was Julian Bream, who came into town once a year. Later he also produced the ¡Guitarra!-series for the BBC and played Renaissance guitar, Vihuela and Baroque guitar. I found it most remarkable that all the good guitar music is either 17th or 20th century and never saw the point in arranging Bach and Mozart for the guitar, since there is so much great repertoire already.
My personal favorite on the Baroque guitar is Gaspar Sanz, who strings the instrument without basses. Julian Bream joked about the Baroque guitar, calling it a Rolls Royce of Ukuleles. Regarding that tuning he was right, but the fine instrument Dieter Schossig build for me certainly has more to offer...