Henry VIII character jug produced by Crown Winsor of Longton, England, circa 1985. Henry VIII (1491 - 1547) was King of England from April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for his six marriages, and for his efforts to have his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled. His disagreement with Pope Clement VII about such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated by the pope. Henry is also known as the "father of the Royal Navy" as he invested heavily in the navy and increased its size from a few to more than 50 ships.