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?