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(mā`stä), association of Spanish sheep farmers, formed to regulate sheep raising and to prevent cultivation of pastureland. Its date of origin is uncertain, but by 1273 Alfonso X of Castile formally recognized its long-established privileges, which were confirmed and extended by his successors. The mesta gradually escaped local jurisdiction and came under direct supervision of the crown. It prospered, especially in the 15th and 16th cent., by exporting wool from its highly prized Merino sheepMerino sheep
, breed intermediate in body size having fine wool, developed in Spain. These sheep are noted for their hardiness and their herding instincts and have been used as parents of several other breeds, notably the Rambouillet of France. Three strains have been developed.
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. The mesta yielded large revenues to the crown, but its monopoly of large areas of land exhausted the soil and contributed to the economic decline of Spain by preventing intensive agriculture. Attacked by reforming ministers in the 18th cent., it was not abolished until 1837.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Nestos), a river in Bulgaria and Greece. In Bulgaria the river is called the Mesta; in Greece, the Nestos.

The Mesta is 273 km long and drains an area of 7,500 sq km. It originates in the Rila Mountains. Within Bulgaria (126 km) it flows through a deep valley bounded by the spurs of the Pirin (in the southwest) and Rhodope (in the northeast) mountains. In Greece, the river cuts through hills and low mountains and flows into the Aegean Sea, forming a delta. In its upper and middle courses, the Mesta basin is fed by snow and rain, with high water occurring in May and June; in its lower course it is fed predominantly by rain, with maximum water discharge in winter. The mean annual flow rate near the border of Bulgaria and Greece is 32 cu m per sec. The river is used for irrigation.



an organization of large sheep raisers, most of whom were feudal lords, in Spain from the 13th to the 19th century. It arose in 1273 in Castile and enjoyed royal privileges. Large flocks of sheep belonging to members of the Mesta were driven in the fall from the northern part of the country to southern pastures; in the spring they were driven back along special roads (canadas), built across tilled fields, meadows, and vineyards. The Mesta acquired the rights to cut down forests that were in the path of the flocks’ movement and to use the pastures of the town and rural communities that they passed. The peasants were forbidden to erect fences to protect their fields.

In the late 15th and 16th centuries, in connection with the increase in the export of wool from Spain to other Western European countries, the Mesta’s pastures were extended by royal decrees at the expense of arable land; lands leased in perpetuity were allotted to the Mesta’s members.

The Mesta’s activity, which resulted in the growth of stock breeding to the detriment of other branches of agriculture, was one of the causes for the general decline of Spanish agriculture in the 16th century. In the second half of the 18th century the Mesta’s privileges were limited and later abolished. The organization itself existed until 1836.


Mitskun, N. I. “O roli Mesty v istorii Ispanii XVIII v.” Voprosy istorii, 1963, no. 8.
Klein, J. The Mesta. Cambridge, 1920.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Azzam explained that MESTO was also extremely proud of its role as an ambassador for music from the Arab world to Western audiences.
"MESTO is a truly special orchestra that will delight both Arab traditionalists and expatriates with a performance that celebrates Arabic music in a truly symphonic form.
MESTO has won critical plaudits around the world for its performances.
Ratiba El-Hifney, general director, Arab Music Conference and Festival, Cairo Opera House, said: "The orchestra MESTO has elevated our music to the highest level and it has stood side-by-side next to great music from all over the world.
Unknown Nove Mesto"For many, Nove Mesto is just a scene set flanking the Vajnorska and Raianska roads leading out of the city," said Matas upka, the young activist and founder of the Green Patrol, who published the map.
Nove Mesto borough class="ulComprises the northeastern part of Bratislava37.5 km2 in size, the forests of the Small Carpathians making up almost half of its areaHas about 44,000 citizensBehind the obscurity of this relatively large part of Bratislava he sees a lack of something distinctive people could associate with it.
upka sees three main features typical for Nove Mesto. The first one is the winemaking and vineyards over the Small Carpathian foothills.
"This is something that really has a tradition here, and for many centuries it has formed the upper part of Nove Mesto," upka told The Slovak Spectator.The second is industry and industrialisation, which has left a very significant trace.
"MESTO will bring a unique fusion of Western orchestral style to some of the best loved Arabic classic songs in a musical journey from a bygone era to the modern day," said Dr.
"MESTO is a truly unique orchestral creation that has delighted tens of thousands of concert goers all over the world from the United States to the Middle East and we are very proud to welcome Maestro Azzam, singer Dalal Abu-Amneh and the virtuousoqanun playing of Lilit Khojayan to Oman for the very first time," he added.