The Couto Mixto, a former sovereign state between Spain and Portugal

by Joaquin Ossorio Castillo - 2 years, 1 month ago

In January 2015 I had the opportunity to visit the three small Galician villages (Santiago de Rubiás, Rubiás and Meaus) that formed the Couto Mixto, a former self-governing sovereign state between Spain and Portugal that existed from its foundation in the 10th century until the Treaty of Lisbon in 1864. Back in the day, they had some awesome privileges, like exemption from taxes and military service as well as their own nationality and stamps, and the right to bear arms. Their form of government was quite curious: every few years, each of the three villages elected democratically a representative (known as the Homens de Acordo), and the three of them will appoint the president of the Couto Mixto. Ahead of their time indeed...I called the current honorary president, Cesáreo González, in order to arrange a visit. He kindly accepted the request, and accompanied us during the whole day with lots of stories and explanations visiting the three towns (in the church of Santiago you can see a replica of the arch with three keys where the documents of the couto were guarded), and also the ancient privileged path that marked the way to the closer towns of Portugal. At the end, we had lunch in Pitões das Júnias (Portugal).

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