Plus ultra

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The royal arms of Spain, flanked by the Pillars of Hercules bearing the motto Plus ultra
Wooden paneling in Charles V's palace in the Alhambra
Motto of the city of Binche, Belgium

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.

Charles V[edit]

The motto was suggested to the young king in 1516 by his physician and adviser Luigi Marliano.[1] It was emblematic of Marliano's vision of a Christian empire spanning beyond the boundaries of the Old World.[1] 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".[1]

The motto is first recorded on the back of Charles's chair in the church of St Gudule, Brussels.[1] 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.[1]

Spain[edit]

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.

Other uses[edit]

The motto is used by a number of institutions around the world, including the University of Mexico and the Colombian Navy. The English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon used it as his personal motto.

The French version Plus oultre is the motto of the Belgian city Binche and of the US Air Force Academy's 15th Cadet Squadron.

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.

The Plus Ultra Brigade, composed of troops from five Spanish-speaking countries (Spain, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador), served in the Iraq War in 2003.

The motto is written on the wall tiles of the cloak room at Mar-a-Lago,[2] President Trump's retreat in Florida.[3]

It was also used in the manga My Hero Academia in 2014, which was later adapted into an anime of the same name; both featured Plus ultra as the motto of the UA hero academy.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ /ˌplʊs ˈʊltrɑː/, Latin: [ˈpluːs ˈʊltraː], Spanish: [plus ˈultɾa]
  2. ^ Also Ne or Nec plus ultra, "no further beyond".