Plus ultra

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The Coat of Arms of Spain, flanked by the Pillars of Hercules bearing the motto plus ultra
Wooden panelling in Charles V's palace in the Alhambra
Motto of the city of Binche, Belgium

Plus ultra (Latin: [pluːs ˈʊltraː], Spanish: [plus ˈultɾa], English: "Further beyond") is a Latin phrase and the national motto of Spain. A reversal of the original phrase non plus ultra ("Nothing further beyond"), 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 in antiquity), it has metaphorical suggestions of taking risks and striving for excellence. Its original version, the personal motto of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, also Duke of Burgundy and King of Spain, was Plus oultre in French. The motto was adopted some decades after the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus.


Plus oultre, French for "further beyond", was adopted by the young Duke of Burgundy and new King of Spain Charles of Habsburg as his personal motto at the suggestion of his adviser Luigi Marliano, an Italian physician, in 1516.[1][2] It was emblematic of Marliano's vision of a Christian empire spanning beyond the boundaries of the Old World, now that Charles also controlled territories in the New World through the Spanish crown, and it was also associated with the desire to bring the Reconquista past Gibraltar into North Africa and revive the crusades of the chivalric tradition. The motto is first recorded on the back of Charles's chair in the church of St Gudule, Brussels.[2] Spaniards translated the original French into Latin due to the hostility they bore for the French-speaking Burgundian advisors and ministers Charles brought with him to Spain from the Low Countries.[2] At Charles's entry into Burgos in 1520, an arch was set up bearing on one side, "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".[2] Plus oultre continued to be used in the Burgundian Low Countries and also appeared in the wooden panellin of Charles's palace in Granada. As a consequence of Charles's election as Holy Roman Emperor, both Plus oultre and Plus ultra began to be used in Italy and Germany, together with a less successful German translation, Noch Weiterer. In Spain, the Latin motto continued to be popular 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 is featured on both the flag and arms of Spain.

Other uses[edit]

See also[edit]

  • A.E.I.O.U., the motto of the Habsburgs, which is often being understand as "All the world is subject to Austria" (Alles Erdreich ist Österreich untertan in German or Austriae est imperare orbi universo in Latin), and shares a similar spirit with Plus ultra.
  • A solis ortu usque ad occasum (English: From sunrise to sunset), another quote from the Spanish Coat of Arms
  • List of national mottos


  1. ^ Giovio, Paolo (1658). Diálogo delas empresas militares y amorosas, compuesto en lengua italiana.
  2. ^ a b c d Ferer, Mary Tiffany (2012). Music and Ceremony at the Court of Charles V. The Boydell Press. ISBN 9781843836995.
  3. ^ Bromley, J.S. (1970), The New Cambridge Modern History: Volume 6, The Rise of Great Britain and Russia, 1688-1715/25, CUP Archive, pp. 440–442, ISBN 978-0-521-07524-4
  4. ^ Photograph of the cloak room at Mar-a-Lago,, retrieved 27 September 2017