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Plus ultra,[note 1] Latin for "further beyond", is the national motto of Spain. It is taken from the personal motto of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, and is a reversal of the original phrase Non plus ultra ("not further beyond").[note 2] This was said to have been inscribed as a warning on the Pillars of Hercules at the Strait of Gibraltar, which marked the edge of the known world. Charles adopted the motto following the discovery of the New World by Columbus, and it also has metaphorical suggestions of taking risks and striving for excellence.
The motto was suggested to the young king in 1516 by his physician and adviser Luigi Marliano. It was emblematic of Marliano's vision of a Christian empire spanning beyond the boundaries of the Old World. It was associated in particular with the desire to bring the Reconquista past Gibraltar and into North Africa: at Charles's triumphal entry into Burgos in 1520, a triumphal arch was set up bearing on one side the motto Plus ultra and on the other "All of Africa weeps because it knows that you have the key [Gibraltar] [and] have to be its master".
The motto is first recorded on the back of Charles's chair in the church of St Gudule, Brussels. The original French motto Plus oultre was translated into Latin due to the hostility Spaniards bore for the French advisors and ministers Charles brought with him to Spain.
The motto continued to be popular in Spain after Charles V's death. It appeared in Habsburg propaganda and was used to encourage Spanish explorers to ignore the old warning and go beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Today it features on both the flag and arms of Spain.
Charles V was born in Ghent in Flanders and as a result the motto is also used in this region.
In 1926 a crew of Spanish aviators including Ramón Franco and Julio Ruiz de Alda Miqueleiz completed the first transatlantic flight between Spain and South America on a seaplane named the Plus Ultra. 1930 saw the formation of a Madrid-based football team AD Plus Ultra, which eventually developed into Real Madrid Castilla.