The coat of 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] (English: "Further beyond") is a Latin phrase and the national motto of Spain. It is taken from the personal motto of Charles V (24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558), Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain (as Charles I), and is a reversal of the original phrase Non plus ultra ("Nothing 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 in antiquity. 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 VEdit

The motto was suggested to the young king in 1516 by his physician and adviser Luigi Marliano.[1][2] It was emblematic of Marliano's vision of a Christian empire spanning beyond the boundaries of the Old World.[2] 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".[2]

The motto is first recorded on the back of Charles's chair in the church of St Gudule, Brussels.[2] 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.[2]


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 is featured on both the flag and arms of Spain.

Other usesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ English: /ˌplʊs ˈʊltrɑː/ pluuss UUL-trah,[citation needed] Latin[pluːs ˈʊltraː], Spanish: [plus ˈultɾa].
  2. ^ Also Ne or Nec plus ultra, "no further beyond".
  1. ^ Giovio, Paolo (1658). Diálogo delas empresas militares y amorosas, compuesto en lengua italiana.
  2. ^ a b c d e 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
  5. ^ Donald J. Trump [@realDonaldTrump] (18 January 2017). "Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago. Looking forward to Friday.…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.