Bluff King Hal character jug produced by Duncan of England circa 1960. Henry VIII (1491-1547), also known as Bluff King Hal, was a monarch in the grand manner. Scholar, musician, military leader, founder of the English Navy, he reigned for thirty-eight years. However, the significance of Henry's reign is often overshadowed by his six marriages. The early part of Henry's reign saw the young king invade France, defeat Scottish forces, and write a treatise denouncing Martin Luther's Reformist ideals, for which the Pope awarded Henry the title Defender of the Faith. Henry avoided governing in person, leaving matters of state most notably with Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York. Cardinal Wolsey virtually ruled England until he failed to secure the papal annulment for Henry to marry Anne Boleyn in 1533.
The subsequent break with Rome led to the establishment of the Church of England and the royal supremacy that would last until the execution of Charles I and the establishment of the Commonwealth one hundred years after Henry's death.