As I was reviewing some stats for my site, I was surprised about the level of search that appears to be occurring about Sic Parvis Magna meaning. In this article, I will both define the phrase, and talk about the reason why the upcoming historical fiction novel Sic Parvis Magna is the start of my historical fiction series Adventures of Francis Drake.
Sic Parvis Magna Meaning
The actual translation of Latin statement Sic Parvis Magna is from small things, greatness. We also see it translated as greatness from small beginnings, or similar translations. Latin is an interesting language.
I am an amateur historian and an avid historical fiction reader. As also an enthusiast of naval history, I certainly knew about Drake, and his story interested me. As Kelsey puts it, here was a Devon farm boy that not only becomes a pirate, but the most successful pirate in history. And the rogue is welcomed in the Tudor court and becomes one of the favorites of Elizabeth I (who was a brilliant politician!).
This story attracted me to writing this series—the story of Drake has been told many times, both in film and book, as a fiction and from a dry historical perspective. However, most of the stories about Drake really start when Drake famously raids the Isthmus of Panama, rather than his more humble origins.
Further, there is little historical record about Drake before his success. To me, this gives me creative license to breathe life into history while staying as true to the history as possible. This is why Sic Parvis Magna is the first book of the historical fiction series Adventures of Francis Drake. It was impossible to name the origin novel anything other than this. It was the title from the very first prick of the idea.
Origin of Sic Parvis Magna
The motto appears on Drake’s coat of arms, famously granted by Elizabeth I (Tudor) on the deck of the Golden Hind on the official (political) completion of his circumnavigation. In a masterful stroke of political maneuvering, while holding the sword for the dubbing, Elizabeth made a joke about her thoughts of taking Drake’s head off, then suddenly gave the sword to the French ambassador who stood next to her to knight Francis Drake.
At this point in time, the relationship between Spain and England was strained and Elizabeth’s move demonstrated to Spain’s ambassador Mendoza French support for England and for Drake’s action.
The knighthood Drake granted him a coat of arms. However, there is some evidence that another branch of the Drakes objected vehemently to the use of their coat of arms. Elizabeth granted Drake a new coat of arms where the ship is circumnavigating the world, pulled by God on a string with the Latin phrase auxilio divino, or with God’s help or with divine aid.
Nova Albion Adventure
I explore the behind-the-scenes political drama and high seas adventures of Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation in the third novel of the series, the upcoming Nova Albion Adventure.
Final thoughts on Sic Parvis Magna Meaning
Sic Parvis Magna meaning is from small beginnings, greatness. Little did the original Herald’s College artist(s) imagine they were foretelling some 400 years of English maritime history in her transformation from a small island to a global empire.
Learn more about the upcoming historical fiction novel Sic Parvis Magna here. Learn more about the characters of the novel:
Kelsey, H. (1998). Sir Francis Drake. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Sugden, J. (1990). Sir Francis Drake. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Turner, M. (n.d.). In Drake’s Wake. Retrieved from In Drake’s Wake: http://www.indrakeswake.co.uk
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