The Banquet in Saint George's Hall by French illustrator Tony Johannot for the third instalment of Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance for September 1842 in Ainsworth's Magazine, which he founded he had quarrelled with the publisher and left his editorial post at Bentley's Miscellany. "Book the First: Anne Boleyn," Chapter IV, "How King Henry the Eighth held a Chapter of the Garter; How he attended Vespers and Matins in Saint George's Chapel; and how he feasted with the Knights-Companions in Saint George's Hall," facing p. 42. 9.6 cm high by 13.9 wide, framed. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Passage Illustrated: Henry defies two Catholic Cardinals in St. George's Hall

The appearance of the hall during the banquet was magnificent, the upper part being hung with arras representing the legend of Saint George, placed there by Henry the Sixth, and the walls behind the knights-companions adorned with other tapestries and rich stuffs. The tables groaned with the weight of dishes, some of which may be enumerated for the benefit of modern gastronomers. There were Georges on horseback, chickens in brewis, cygnets, capons of high grease, carpes of venison, herons, calvered salmon, custards planted with garters, tarts closed with arms, godwits, peafowl, halibut engrailed, porpoise in armour, pickled mullets, perch in foyle, venison pasties, hypocras jelly, and mainemy royal.

Before the second course was served, the Garter, followed by Clarenceux and Norroy, together with the heralds and pursuivants, advanced towards the sovereign's canopy, and cried thrice in a loud voice, "Largesse!"

Upon this, all the knights-companions arose and took off their caps. The Garter then proceeded to proclaim the king’s titles in Latin and French, and lastly in English, as follows:​— "Of the most high, most excellent, and most mighty monarch, Henry the Eighth, by the grace of God King of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and Sovereign of the most noble Order of the Garter."

This proclamation made, the treasurer of the household put ten golden marks into the Garter's cap, who making a reverence to the sovereign, retired from the hall with his followers.

"Come, my lord legate,"​said Henry, when this ceremony was at an end, "we will drink to my future queen. What ho! wine!"​he added to the Earl of Surrey, who officiated as cup-bearer.

"Your highness is not yet divorced from your present consort,"​replied Campeggio. "If it please you, I should prefer drinking the health of Catherine of Arragon."

"Well, as your eminence pleases," replied the king, taking the goblet from the hand of Surrey; "I shall not constrain you."

And looking towards the gallery, he fixed his eyes on the Lady Anne and drained the cup to the last drop.

"Would it were poison,"​muttered Sir Thomas Wyat, who stood behind the Earl of Surrey, and witnessed what was passing.

"Give not thy treasonable thoughts vent, gossip,"​said Will Sommers, who formed one of the group near the royal table, "or it may chance that some one less friendly disposed towards thee than myself may overhear them. I tell thee, the Lady Anne is lost to thee for ever. Think'st thou aught of womankind would hesitate between a simple knight and a king? My lord duke,"​he added sharply to Richmond, who was looking round at him, "you would rather be in yonder gallery than here."

"Why so, knave?" asked the duke.

"Because the Fair Geraldine is there," replied the jester. "And yet your grace is not the person she would most desire to have with her."

"Whom would she prefer?"​inquired the duke angrily.

The jester nodded at Surrey, and laughed maliciously.

"You heard the health given by the king just now, my lord,"​observed the Duke of Suffolk to his neighbour the Duke of Norfolk; "it was a shrewd hint to the lord legate which way his judgment should decline. Your niece will assuredly be Queen of England." [Chapter 4, "How King Henry the Eighth held a Chapter of the Garter; How he attended Vespers and Matins in Saint George's Chapel; and how he feasted with the Knights-Companions in Saint George's Hall," pp. 41-42.]


Although a good deal of drama is transpiring behind the scenes, Tony Johannot has elected to depict Henry in the middle of the head-table turning to discuss the drinking of the toast with the papal legate, Campeggio. This Catholic prelate has just reminded Henry that, since the divorce is yet to be effected, Anne Boleyn may not become Queen. The Conversation between Wyat, Surrey, Richmond, and Will Somers, presumably going on in the right foreground, is singularly without emotion. In consequence, the reader may well conclude that the French illustrator has muted the emotionally charged conversations at the rear, between the King and the Cardinals, and in the foreground. Despite Ainsworth's highly detailed descriptions of the clothing, the characters are dressed in generalised Renaissance garb, and the walls of the chamber are curiously devoid of ornamentation. Since the cardinals will reveal themselves adamantly opposed to the royal divorce and thorough adherents of Queen Catherine, the illustration should reveal far more tension between Henry, Campeggio, and Wolsey. No wonder, then, that Johannot abandoned the project, for he failed to find adequate inspiration from Ainsworth's narrative, which he may have found too laden with descriptive passages perhaps.

As an illustrator working with his brothers, Johannot may well have been inspired by the classics of European literature — the Bible, Molière, Cervantes, Rousseau, Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Goethe, Chateaubriand, Lamartine, and Victor Hugo — but Johannot failed to rise to the challenge of Ainsworth's historical romance — his working with an English rather than a French text was probably part of this challenge. Since he quit rather than was dismissed, the French illustrator must have realised that Ainsworth romance suited neither his style nor his taste.


Ainsworth, William Harrison. Jack Sheppard. A Romance. With 28 illustrations by George Cruikshank. In three volumes. London: Richard Bentley, 1839.

Ainsworth, William Harrison. Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance. Illustrated by George Cruikshank and Tony Johannot. With designs on wood by W. Alfred Delamotte. London: Routledge, 1880. Based on the Henry Colburn edition of 1844.

Patten, Robert L. Chapter 30, "The 'Hoc' Goes Down." George Cruikshank's Life, Times, and Art, vol. 2: 1835-1878. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers U. P., 1991; London: The Lutterworth Press, 1996. Pp. 153-186.

Worth, George J. William Harrison Ainsworth. New York: Twayne, 1972.

Last modified 4 February 2018