The movement from the divorce of Catherine of Aragon to the full-blown Reformation had numerous causes. One of these was the belief in the concept of imperium. This was the belief that England was a fully sovereign entity that was independent from Rome and, in fact, all forms of foreign governments. Therefore, the king had no allegiance or loyalty to any foreigner including the Pope. Therefore, the power of the king would be greatly extended in England and the power of any external authority would be reduced to nothing, as power would emanate from the crown alone.


There is a degree of confusion among historians as to just how much imperium was believed in as an actual theory. Some believe that it was a theory that latched on to the belief that the king was supreme in his own kingdom and bowed down to no one. It is possible that when it was explained to Henry that if the drive towards what became known as the Reformation went to its full conclusion, that he would effectively inherit much of the former wealth of the Church, then the Reformation would have taken place regardless of an annulment or Anne Boleyn.


Others believe that it was simply a part of the campaign to put pressure on the then Pope, Clement VII, to grant Henry an annulment – pressure that obviously failed.


We do know that Henry would latch on to part of an idea presented to him, embrace it with huge energy for a while and then drift away from it. To many who worked with Henry this was typical of the king. He would later come back to it after he had latched onto a different idea and dropped that as well. Therefore, it would be difficult to state that Henry and his advisors had a master plan with regards to the Church before 1532. However, after this year Thomas Cromwell gave the movement shape, drive and consistency.