At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church controlled the majority of religious, political and social power in Europe. However both the people and royalty started to begin multiple reforms across Europe. Papal corruption, the print press, the Renaissance, and personal ambitions all played an influence in religious reform. In addition, while the Reformation taking place in Europe was brought about by religious differences and ideals, its basis in England was one of personal and political change. England experienced the greatest wavering between the two religions as the monarchs of England passed from one religion to the next. Historians argue that the reformation was caused from above through the influences of the people Henry VIII surrounded himself with. Others argue that the English Reformation arouse from popular discontent with the pre-Henrician church. While Parliament did have some influence in Henry's decisions, the people couldn't have possibly started a reform without the help of the ruler's actions; one couldn't have succeeded without the other. It was both influences from above and below that caused the reformation of England to occur.
The English reformation was imposed from above and below through the ruler's actions influenced by personal desires and through Luther's influence on the people's beliefs. King Henry VIII (reigned 1507-1547) kept close control of the Reformation while he was alive. He was a theologically conversant, a humanistically trained prince with facility in Latin who both read and wrote theological works and discussed them with his counsellors, and who attended mass daily. Luther's opinions and thoughts alone wouldn't have been enough for a Reformation to happen without the action of a king. As long as the king opposed Luther, there was little chance that English reformers would amount to anything more than a bunch of powerless voices from intellectuals haunting Cambridge taverns.