During the English Reformation, a general break from the Church of England and Catholicism spread across Europe. Historians often focus on changes in religious views as the cause the Reformation. However, political, economic and social factors also led to the 16th century reform movement.
England had been on the feudal system, led by lords that ruled a particular area. The lords provided land for vassal to live, and the vassals farmed the land. At the time, there was virtually no true central government or protection against crime. The government of England promised better protection, in return for the lord’s paying more taxes to the king. England became nationalistic.
England also became enlightened. The printing press allowed people to widely distribute their ideas more quickly and efficiently. It allowed for large quantities of printed material to be mass produced, including newspapers and Bibles. The newspaper enabled people to write about events, as well as criticize the monarchy. The mass production of Bibles helped people become more literate. Ideas and knowledge was being shared and transferred to various classes. Now people were learning to read and interpret the Bible themselves, instead of depending on the papacy to read to them.
Religion became a major part of the Reformation when Henry VIII decided that he wanted an annulment of his marriage. At the time, the king gave the papacy tribute money and the Pope decided religious matters. When the Pope refused to grant an end of the king’s marriage, the monarchy and papacy split. The monarchy became the leader of the Church of England, the official religion, and refused to allow practice of other religions. Also, the papacy stopped receiving funds from the king.
Still another factor in the England Reformation was the desire for using common law, instead of relying on the courts to settle all disputes.