It is clear that Henry’s main reason for breaking with Rome was to gain control of the Church’s wealth in England, and to get his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, rather than to alter the liturgy. The liturgy really continued much as it always had; only some bibles were in English and less people attended Catholic Church.
Henry asked for an annulment from the Pope in 1527, after the Sack of Rome. The Pope had a dilemma: Charles V’s troops had ransacked Rome, destroying the city, Killing the monks, and raping the nuns, and threatened to return at any point. Charles was the nephew of Catherine of Aragon (whom Henry was trying to annul his marriage to, without her agreement). But his good relationship with Henry would be in ruins if he did not give him an annulment, that he so wanted. So, knowing Henry, he decided to put off the annulment for now, without replying and he hoped Henry would change his mind, as he often did. He put it off for so long that Henry issued the ‘Act in Conditional Restraints of Annates’ and Peter’s Pence, threatening the Popes income from England. The Pope still did nothing, because he was more afraid of Charles V, so Henry broke with Rome, making himself the head of the Church.
He was then excommunicated – twice, in 1534 and in 1538.
Henry needed to get rid of Catherine of Aragon, and he couldn’t kill her because she was popular in England, and it might have led to a revolt, and because her nephew was the most powerful man in Europe, Charles V, and he would most certainly invade. So Henry decided to get the marriage annulled, under the claim that in the Bible, in the book of Leviticus it states if you marry your brother’s wife you shall have no children. Even though he already had a daughter to Catherine, Henry said this meant he would have no sons, which was vital to carry on the Tudor line. Henry needed a male heir, and Catherine (being 6 years older than him when they married) was now past child-bearing age. So he looked around for another possible wife, and he saw Anne Boleyn. When she refused to his mistress he decided he wanted to marry her. It was dangerous pursuing Anne Boleyn, because she was just an English noble. His choice may anger the other English nobles who may think – “Why did he choose me/my daughter to marry?”, and may deny Henry’s supremacy, and even form a faction against him. Luckily this did not happen.
Even though anti-catholic demonstrations took place in England, such as Richard Layton smashing the shrine of St William, the main focus of Catholic worship at York, they took place because the people thought that was what the King wanted when he broke from Rome. They did not realise that Henry wanted to remain Catholic. All Henry really wanted was to be rid of Catherine of Aragon. Not many religious changes happened, except for when the Act of Succession came in, demanding everybody over the age of 14 swore an oath stating Henry was the head of the Church, and the people who refused to swear, such as Thomas More, were executed. Henry did not commit many protestant acts, he even had some English bibles (a key protestant point was having the bible in the vernacular) burned.
Henry knew that if he became head of the Church in England he would get all the Church’s lands, and the money that came in off these lands. Also he would have so much power over the country, and would not have to answer to anyone. Therefore he would more power over his own country than any other European leader had over their country.
From the evidence it is blatantly obvious that Henry only wanted to break with Rome because he was stubborn, and just wanted to be with Anne, because she refused to be his mistress, and he wanted what he couldn’t have. Even thought he may have been sick of her by 1533, he was so stubborn that he did not back down, as he would loose face, and his social position in Europe would fall.
In conclusion it is clear that Henry’s motives for breaking with Rome and starting the Reformation were not to do with Protestantism, as he still remained Catholic, although it was a strange form of Catholicism. His motives were more focused on securing the succession of the Tudor Line, and getting what he wanted: Anne Boleyn, more money, land, prestige and power.