From a Toad to a World Emblem by Piet Kroonenberg

The Toad, the Arrowhead and the Fleur-de-Lys.

It all began with Chlodevech who was also known as Clovis. He was a King of the Franks (481-511) who succeeded in extending his tribe's territory and in making Paris the capital city of his realm. In order to increase his power and influence even more in 496 he thought it opportune to embrace the Christian religion as the Church was more inclined to back a Christian King.

The French always considered Clovis' conversion as having been the beginning of France as a real national entity, a real State even though many wars had to be fought, and much blood had to be shed before France obtained its present seize. In summer 1996 the French celebrated and remembered that 1500 years earlier the foundation of their State had been laid. The very old cathedral of the city of Reims was the center of the festivities and even the Pope came to attend. As was proven by the images of Clovis, at the time on display in the Cathedral, as his personal and royal emblem he had chosen the TOAD. (1). After his conversion he had the Golden Toads placed on the blue of St Martin's cloak. St Martin was the Bishop of Tours. Thus was created Clovis' Royal Standard and Flag


It may well have been that in the end the TOAD, small and slithery as it was, was not considered to be distinguished, dignified or stately enough as should befit Royalty. And so a slow process of restyling began (2+3) until much later the emblem (4) did no longer resemble the original TOAD anymore and so its initial origin was soon forgotten. (*1). No 4 reminded some of a special lancehead or ARROWHEAD, which the French had introduced as a modernized, more effective and efficient weapon which, thanks to its two side leaves, inflicted more effective and deadlier wounds. A fair example of how, throughout the ages, human progress always invented better methods of mass destruction. But others thought that the emblem had a more peaceful similarity with a flower, the FLEUR-DE-LIS or LILY. And so this symbol of Royalty got known as the Bourbon or the French Lily.


Clovis was succeeded by many French Kings who directly or indirectly could claim to be descending from him, though the Royal House - that he had founded - changed names several times. Originally the Merowings, then the Karolings but when Hugo Capet ascended the French throne in 987 his direct descendants occupied it until 1792. Using the following family names: House of Capet (987-1328), House of Valois (1328-1589) and House of Bourbon (1589-1792 and 1815-1830). In 1792 the French Revolution began and - as citoyen (citizen) Capet - King Louis XVI was beheaded. Napoleon's Empire replaced the Republic and when he had been defeated the Bourbons came back to the throne (1815) but it was not a great success and in 1830 the family lost forever its seat and power.

Originally the blue flag was covered (in heraldic terms "seme" or "powdered") with an even pattern of many "Golden Toads" - as mentioned - gradually altering into Arrowheads or Fleurs-de-Lis. But it was King Charles V (1364-1380) who decided to simplify by reducing the number to three only. Such to honor and worship the Holy Trinity. Three on either a blue or a white field. And that is how the Fleur-de-Lis (or Arrowhead) remained the symbol of French Royalty and of Royal France. The Bourbon Family did not, however, only occupy the French throne but - for some time, also those of Spain, Parma and Naples and these Bourbons also used the emblem.


Sailors there have always been particularly so in the Mediterranean. Some of them even ventured out of that sea via Gibraltar and braved the waves of the Atlantic. Some from the Middle East sailed to England and loaded tin in Cornwall. But they saw to it that they never lost sight of the coasts. The general opinion was that the world was flat and that somewhere, far from the beaches, there was an edge and the water cascaded. After well into the Middle Ages the Church also taught the world was flat with Jerusalem as its center. But gradually Humanity became aware of the fact that, contrary to what the Church taught, the world was not flat but in reality was a globe. An idea which met a lot of resistance from more conservative circles. In addition the Europeans discovered and developed the compass - or as some say - took it over from the - to them - still very distant and mysterious Chinese. Also the art of producing sea charts was discovered.
These discoveries enabled Portuguese seamen, led by Prince Henry the Sailor, to sail the Atlantic and they also enabled Columbus to cross the Atlantic in his search for a new approach to the far away Indies. He expected that by sailing westwards he would approach the Indies from the east. Consequently, when he discovered the islands in the Caribbean he thought he was in the eastern part of the Philippines and Indonesia and he named the inhabitants the " Indians", And consequently the original inhabitants of the Americas are still known as the "Red Indians".
Thereafter compasses and sea charts were in great demand and the science of topography developed. Originally the manufacturers of both were found in the Mediterranean ports. One of them was Flavio Gioja of Naples/Italy.
Baden-Powell, in the American scouting magazine "BOY'S LIFE" of July 1924 wrote:
"In the Middle Ages, Charles (of Bourbon), King of Naples, being a Frenchman, had the Fleur-de-Lis as his crest. It was in his reign that Flavio Cioja, the navigator, made the mariners' compass into a practical and reliable instrument. His compass card had the initial letters of North, South, East and West upon it. In Italian the North was "Tramontano". So he put a capital T to mark the North point, but in compliment to the King he made a combination of the letter T with the King's Fleur-de-Lis crest. From that time the North point has been universally shown on the maps, charts and compass cards by that sign."
Originally the Portuguese, the Italians and the Spaniards were the discoverers and explorers of the "new worlds" but later - England and the Netherlands took over and became the big, important seagoing nations and traders, a process which led to many conflicts with Spain and Portugal. They also produced increasingly better charts and compasses. They indicated the North with an, often artistic N for North or Noord (Dutch) which sometimes seemed to resemble the Fleur-de-Lis. But it was certainly never their intention to in anyway honor the French Royalty. On the contrary, the Bourbons so often threatened and/or attacked England and the Netherlands that neither the Brits nor the Dutch were at the least inclined to have any soft feelings towards them or their Lily. Reason why the sailors of the British Isles and the Netherlands never spoke of a Lily or Fleur-de-Lis but the Arrowhead or the Pijlkop (Dutch) or simply The North.


Another quote from B-P's articles in US "BOYS' LIFE" magazine of July 1924.
"So far back as 1885, when I was adjutant of my regiment, I found that the young men who joined the army as recruits were little better than half-educated boys. They knew nothing about reading maps nor about writing reports or finding their way by the stars, many of them indeed were afraid to go out alone in the dark, or to take any kind of risks."
"A few years later - well, in 1893-94 to be exact - I was in command of a squadron of cavalry in Ireland, and I was keen on teaching my men to become practical Scouts in addition to their ordinary duty of fighting in the ranks. I made them learn to find their way over strange country by mapreading, to make maps and to write reports of what they had seen, and to do the same, each man by himself, by night as well as by day".
In their spare time and in addition to their ordinary duties, soldiers, warrant officers and officers could - voluntary - undergo this additional training. During it they were divided in small groups, patrols, of 5 or 6 men. They were also taught to become self-supporting not only able to cook their own food but to also find the edible. To follow and read tracks, to remove their own tracks and to keep well hidden whilst observing. The whole operation was very popular indeed and the men were very keen to be included.
"…. I thought that some reward was due to them, and I got leave from the War Office to give to each man who qualified as a fully trained Scout a distinguishing badge to wear."
"So in selecting a suitable badge I hit on the Arrowhead or the North point of the compass, since, like the compass, these Scouts could show the right direction for going over strange country".

And so with the War Office's permission B-P. designed the above badges. The military Scout, after having passed all the tests and having met all the requirements, was permitted to wear no 5 - a brass emblem - on his tunic's the right upper sleeve. But that was not all. The men were permitted to attend a supplementary course and to become a Scout First Class in which case they were permitted to wear the next badge (6) also a brass one. Having completed this course the ordinary soldiers were mostly also promoted to either lance corporal, corporal or even sergeant.
B-P never used the word Lily or Fleur-de-Lis but in accordance with the British nautical traditions named them Arrowheads and as such they were known in the army where the were used even when B-P had long since left the military. In fact the British Household Cavalry maintained the training as well as the badges until well after World War One (1914-1918).


During the experimental camp on Brownsea Island (1907) B-P. unconsciously and unintentionally laid the foundation for the Worldwide Scout and Guide Movements. During the camp he wore his military ARROWHEAD and so one might say that he also - undeliberately no doubt - introduced the ARROWHEAD that would grow to be the Scout Movement's Emblem to be used worldwide, but ofcourse he was not to know at the time.
Whereas B-P intended to offer his Scouting program to the excising youth movements in order to improve their attraction to the boys and to thus enlarge their memberships, it was soon found that after publication of SCOUTING FOR BOYS all over Britain boys (and girls) gathered to play the game. Soon some sort of an organization had to be created and thus the first ever Scout Association was founded in Great Britain. At first it registered the patrols which had been founded all over and it was not until later that such patrols were united in troops which were thereafter recognized. There had to be an emblem and a membership/promise/tenderfoot badge and B-P made the design (7) falling back on his military ARROWHEAD. In print the badge was reproduced for the very first time on page 37 of SCOUTING FOR BOYS' earliest edition and the Founder gave the following explanation:
"The Scout Badge is the ARROWHEAD, which shows the North on the map or on the compass. It is the badge of the Scout …….. because he shows the way."

The careful observer will discern that once again he did not use the words LILY or FLEUR-DE-LIS but very much the British nautical term ARROWHEAD.
B-P's original design (7) appeared in print on the first Scout Registration cards which were issued in 1908 and copies of which are kept in the Archives of the British Scout Association in London. But according to Graham Coombe - now retired but until some years ago the association's archivist - there is no proof available that metal or cloth badges of this design have ever been produced and issued. In 1909 an ARROWHEAD of a different design (8) was introduced as a badge and an emblem to become the first of a large number of official badges and emblem to be used by the Britons until this very day.


Meanwhile Baden-Powell discovered that his Scouting did not restrict itself to the British Isles and its overseas territories only. Like a wild fire spread all over the world. The movements of the other countries simply translated the British rules with some minor adjustments to their national circumstances. Their national emblems and membership or tenderfoot badges were also based upon B-P's original ARROWHEAD but of their own, sometimes very artistic and beautiful designs. By most but ……. France.


But sadly the confusion of tongues also began right away to last until this very day. In the British territories the scouts stuck to the nautical ARROWHEAD. As did the Dutch who were using their nautical PIJLKOP (Pijl = Arrow, Kop = Head). But in other countries, in particular the land-locked ones unfamiliar with the seven seas, the Founders sometimes mistook the ARROWHEAD for a French Lily or a Fleur-de-Lis and introduced these words instead of sticking to B-P's original name. It cannot be denied that Baden-Powell himself at times also added to the confusion by also using Fleur-de-Lis. In his own words in BOYS' LIFE magazine of 1924:
"Years ago, soon after the Boy Scouts were first started in America (USA), certain critics accused the Movement as being a military one. Whenever anything new is started there are bound to be people who get up on their hind legs to find fault with it, often before they know what it is all about.
In this case they said that the Scout Movement was designed to teach the boys to be soldiers, and they quoted as a proof that the crest of the Movement was, as they described it: "a spear head, the emblem of battle and bloodshed."
I was asked by cable what I had to say about it. I telegraphed back: "The crest is a lily, the emblem of peace and purity". I did not say in my cable that this was the cause of its being adopted as the Scouts' Badge, because it wasn't!"
B-P then explained that he took the crest from the compasses and the sea charts as mentioned above. But the result was that those in US Scouting, having to beat off the critics used Fleur-de-Lis and - regretfully - this description has stuck and is still familiar and used in the States as it is in several other countries. Such as in Germany were they use Lilie or Pfadfinderlilie or in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium where Lelie is very common and they do not really understand why their northern neighbors the Netherlanders, taught their Scouts to use Pijlkop and never, never Lelie.


French Scouting - from the beginning - referred to the emblem as the ARROWHEAD and avoided using the words Fleur-de-Lis and it had every reason to do so.
The Bourbon Royal Family might have definitely lost the French Throne in 1830, she was still around and its head-of-the-family was known as "The Pretender". The Family, as well as its many supporters, aspired the restoration of the Bourbon Kingdom and one day hoped to replace the French Republic. The Family - ofcourse - still used the Bourbon Lily. Her supporters had formed a political party and so the Royal symbol also became a party-political emblem. During the 19th and the early 20th century the French Republic considered this political movement as an unpleasant danger.
French Scouting always explained, underlined and stressed that Baden-Powell's ARROWHEAD, the emblem of World Scouting, was in no way connected to the Bourbon Lily. But at the same time it could not introduce the ARROWHEAD for the simple reason that it had to avoid running the risk of being in anyway associated with the Royalist political party and its aspirations. As early as during the 2nd International (now World) Conference of 1922 in Paris, French Scouting had the matter put on the agenda. It explained the difficult situation and with emphasis urgently requested the other movements present to please refrain from using the words Fleur-de-Lis or Lily. In the meeting's minutes it says:
"The Conference decided that the universal acceptance of the name FLEUR-DE-LIS for the Scout Emblem was impracticable as in certain countries (notably France) the Fleur-de-Lis has a political significance."
In other words ARROWHEAD is had to be and everybody was requested to use their national translation of the word. But as history has shown this request was not very well honoured and regretfully the using of Lily and Fleur-de-Lis continued until this very day.
But French Scouting was - as mentioned - unable to use the ARROWHEAD. The situation became even more complicated after 1918 when World War One had ended. In Italy the Fascist founded a party and in Germany the National Socialist took over. Both were copied in many countries. In France there were several be it small but fanatic fascist factions. Some were aiming at the institution of a Fascist French Kingdom as per its Italian example. The latter - much to the dismay of the Bourbon Family and the Royalist party - also used the French Lily as its symbol and soiled same. In brief, from 1910 to well after World War Two (1939-1945) the French scouts could not and would not use the ARROWHEAD as their emblem,

They had to use various other designs such as the Bow and the Arrow, the Trefoil on the Cross of Jerusalem or the Gallic Cock.

The situation changed after World War Two. The fascists and nazis (it was thought and hoped) belonged to the past. During the worldwide conflict the Bourbon family had acted as loyal Frenchmen. Some had served in the Free French Army, others in the US Army and had helped to liberate France. They and their followers understood that the restoration of the French Kingdom had become unrealistic and though the Family never yielded its rights to the Throne, all was more or less getting a nostalgic and symbolic appearance. And so, almost 40 years after its general introduction, French Scouting was able to adopt the ARROWHEAD at last.


All National Scout Associations had their own National emblem, membership/tenderfoot/promise badge, all based upon B-P's original. And, to the badge collectors' pleasure and delight, of different designs and sometime very colorful and artistic indeed. Badges galore!
Yet, from Scouting's earliest hour, there had always been those who, in order to underline and emphasize Scouting's international Brotherhood and Unity, had been propagating the idea of one World Scout Badge to be used by all movements. A good idea but at the time a bit premature. But during World War Two many nations having experienced to what terrible things overdone nationalism could lead to, they distanced themselves from nationalism and promoted internationalism and unity and demanded more Unity. Also in Scouting.
During the International (now World) Committee meeting of September 26th-29th, 1962 the Dutchman Jan Volkmaars, Chief Commissioner and International Commissioner of the NPV (Vereniging de Nederlandse Padvinders) put forward an official proposal to design and introduce ONE WORLD SCOUT BADGE to be used by all movements. It was a hot item, which was discussed in length by all movements, and the years passed by until during the 22nd World Scout Conference at Helsinki (1969) was accepted by all Resolution 5/69 reading:
1) The World Scout Emblem (9)
The Conference resolves that the Wold Scout Emblem shall consist of a field of Royal Purple bearing the White International Arrowhead surrounded by a White Rope in a circle and a central reef knot at the bottom, authorizes its use and reproduction by Member Associations and their members in forms not intended for sale, and directs that it be incorporated in the emblem designs of official international events.

Whereas there were movements who immediately introduced the World Badge as soon as it was available, there were others not so keen in doing so. They found it difficult to drop their, sometimes very nice and artistic national membership/tenderfoot/promise badges. Some compromised by wearing both badges. Others were unable to use the new World Badge as they were in a process of going co-educational, meaning their National Scout and Guide Movements were merging and consequently a badge had to be used combining the Scout Badge and the Trefoil. One such country was The Netherlands, the initiator of it all!!! But according to WOSM's WORLD SCOUTING BULLETIN of December 1973 75 National Scout Movement were using the World Scout Emblem and many others were to follow in the years thereafter.

Apparently the World Scout Committee formulating its Resolution 05/69 also sought to end the confusion of the badge's name. Neither Arrowhead nor Fleur-de-Lis or Lily was used but a new concept was introduced THE WORLD SCOUT EMBLEM.

But even so the confusion of the tongues has not ended. There are still those who use ARROWHEAD, whereas in some countries the NSOs are still sticking to their Lilies. It is to be expected that when Scouting will be a one hundred years old, the situation will still be very much the same.
Piet J. Kroonenberg, Amsterdam, February, 2001.

9) THE WORLD BADGE. 10) Emblem of the Boy Scouts International Bureau (BSIB, now World Bureau) until the introduction of the World Badge.

(*1) This is an improved version of an article that was first written in 1994. It was mailed to a number of editors of various scouting and guiding magazines all over the world. And so it was - translated - also published in a Spanish, an Italian and a French collectors' magazine. These countries, in the past, had had Bourbon Kings and so the Fleur-de-Lis or Lily was very familiar to them. Shortly after publication a number of letters were received from scouts in those countries in which the writers lodged strong protests against the idea of the Lily, the symbol of their former Royalties, originating from a miserable TOAD. One of the protesters was the late Claude Marchal, the well-known French collector and owner of the famous Scouting and Guiding Museum in Bullet/Switzerland. He was filled with indignation and thought the article an insult of one of France's National Emblems, and requested further publication to be stopped. This was rather painful the more so as the writer had a good working elationship with Claude and there had always been a pleasant exchange of historic facts.
In 1996 Claude - as a good Frenchman - went to Reims to attend the celebrations mentioned. Entering the cathedral he spotted the tapestry displaying King Clovis on horseback wrapped in his cloak covered with….. a very large number of TOADS. Much surprised but the good sport, he was, he did not hesitate. He went to a souvenir stall. Found and bought a picture postcard depicting the tapestry and sent it to the writer with the short text added: "You were right and I am ever so sorry!"