Anthony McFarlane
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Breaking the Pax Hispanica
Collective violence in colonial Spanish
in A global history of early modern violence

This chapter argues that levels of collective violence in early modern Spanish America were remarkably low, especially when compared with contemporary Europe. Organized around the concept of a ‘Pax Hispanica’, the chapter explains the conditions that made long-term political and social peace possible until the early nineteenth century, when the collapse of Spanish rule promoted an unprecedented upsurge of collective violence. Several questions are considered. First, what was the incidence and character of collective violence in early modern Spanish America, and why were war and rebellion rare? Second, how and why was the Pax Hispanica affected by international warfare and colonial rebellion during the later eighteenth century? Third, how and why did the Pax Hispanica break down after 1810 and what were the main patterns, causes, and consequences of the collective violence that emerged during the Spanish imperial crisis of the 1810s and 1820s?

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