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Coat of Arms of Spain

Plus ultra (Latin for further beyond) is the national motto of Spain adopted from the personal motto of Charles I of Spain.

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Nec plus ultra

Earl Rosenthal, author of The Palace of Charles V in Granada (1985), has researched the origin of the motto. It is closely associated with the Pillars of Hercules, which according to Roman mythology were built by Hercules, near the Straits of Gibraltar, marking the edge of the then known world. According to mythology the pillars bore the warning Nec plus ultra (also Non plus ultra, "nothing further beyond"), serving as a warning to sailors and navigators to go no further.

Charles V

Motto of the city of Binche (Belgium)

It is believed that the young Charles V adopted Plus ultra as his motto at the suggestion of his doctor and personal advisor Luigi Marliano. The idea was to encourage him to ignore the ancient warning and encourage him to take risks and go further beyond. Charles V was born in Ghent in Flanders and as a result the motto is also used in this region. It has also been interpreted as a phrase used to transcend nationality as Charles ruled over many different parts of Europe (particularly as being Holy Roman Emperor) and colonies all over the world.

Spain

The motto became popular in Spain after Charles V became king of both Aragon and Castile in the early 16th century. It subsequently became the motto of Habsburg Spain and featured on the Spanish dollar. The motto was used to encourage Spanish explorers to go beyond the Pillars of Hercules and on to the New World. Today the inscription, along with the Pillars of Hercules, is featured on both the national flag and emblem of modern Spain. It was also featured on the shield of the Second Spanish Republic.

In 1926 a crew of Spanish aviators, including Ramón Franco and Julio Ruiz de Alda Miqueleiz, completed a Trans-Atlantic flight 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. In more recent times, the Plus Ultra Brigade was a brigade of troops from five Spanish speaking countries including Spain, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador, which served in the Iraq War.

Other use

The motto has been adopted or used by a number of institutions around the world including UNAM in Mexico, Jurong Junior College in Singapore, Malden Catholic High School in Massachusetts, Newstead Girls College, the oldest existing public school in Sri Lanka and the Colombian Navy. It was used as Sir Francis Bacon's personal motto. In its Old French equivalent, Plus Oultre, it is also the motto of the Belgian municipality of Binche. It is also the motto of Cadet Squadron 15 at the United States Air Force Academy. It is also the motto of Immanuel College in South Australia and St Peters Lutheran College in Queensland. The German band Atrocity named their 1999 album Non Plus Ultra

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