What was the Couto Misto Microstate?

Introduction

Couto Misto (Portuguese: Couto Misto [ˈko(w)tu ˈmiʃtu]; Galician: Couto Mixto; Spanish: Coto Mixto) was an independent microstate on the border between Spain and Portugal.

Background

It was composed of the villages of Santiago de Rubiás, Rubiás (now in the Spanish municipality of Calvos de Randín), and Meaus (now in the Spanish municipality of Baltar), all in the Salas Valley, Ourense, Galicia.

The territory of the Couto Misto also included a small uninhabited strip now part of the Portuguese municipality of Montalegre.

As a result of complex medieval manorial relations, this land eluded both Portuguese and Spanish control for centuries, actually operating as a sovereign state in its own right until the 1864 Treaty of Lisbon that partitioned the territory between Spain (which annexed most of the land including the three villages) and Portugal (which remained with a smaller uninhabited strip of land).

As a de facto independent country, the inhabitants of the Couto Misto had many privileges, including exemption from military service and taxes, and could grant asylum to outsiders and deny access to any foreign military contingent.

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