One of the things that becomes evident as we read through Church history is that the spread of Protestantism varies from country to country. The course of reform in Germany was different from the experience of Switzerland, and of course, things in England were quite different.
The political issues surrounding the beginning of reform in England are seen in the person of Henry VIII (1509-1547). Henry was no particular lover of reform. He was not a Lutheran. But neither was he a fan of being under the thumb of the pope. Henry's motives for allowing any kind of church reform had more to do with giving more control to the monarchy and less control to the pope. In short, Henry wanted to control the church, and not for any spiritual reasons.
Henry's older brother, Arthur, was married to Catherine of Aragon, a Spainard and a Catholic. When Arthur died, Henry married Catherine with the hopes of producing an heir. After 17 years of marriage, Henry's union with Catherine had not produced the heir he desired, so he wanted to divorce her. This proved to be problematic because Church law did not allow divorce. Henry had already gained a special dispensation from the pope to marry Catherine in the first place because she had been married to Henry's brother. To get a dispensation for a divorce was unlikely. To muddy the waters further, Catherine was the aunt of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. To alienate him, and Spain along with him, could have been devastating for England.
For six years, Henry attempted to wade through the mire that constituted canon law, trying to find a way to divorce Catherine. Eventually, with the young Anne Boleyn waiting in the wings, he took a drastic step: he broke ties with Rome. This did not mean that Henry was voting against Catholicism as such; he just wanted what he wanted. As Dr. Calhoun says:
He named himself the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England. Thus he did not have to worry about the pope anymore. Whatever Henry said would be fine. So Henry VIII gave Henry VIII permission to divorce.
This did not mean that Henry was beginning what we know today as the Anglican Church. That would come later. All it meant was that Henry found a way to get what he wanted. There was still strong Roman Catholic sentiment in England. Thomas More, diligent Catholic that he was, for example, refused to give allegiance to the Act of Supremacy which installed Henry as the religious leader of the Church of England. He lost his head for that stand.
Edward was the son of Henry and Jane Seymour. He had actually came to the throne when he was only 10 years old, so he didn't really rule as such, but his protectors were of a Protestant and Reformed bent, as opposed to Lutheran, and the trend of reform took that direction. However, when Mary came to the throne, things changed once again. Mary was a staunch Catholic, married to Phillip of Spain. She was called "Bloody" because of the persecution against Protestants that took place under her rule. Mary had the Lady Jane Grey, a Protestant contender for the throne, executed prior to her taking power.
That the course of reform occurred with such pendulum-like action between Catholic and Protestant positions, undoubtedly affected the nature of its ultimate form. Had Henry been given a divorce from Catherine when he wanted it, things could very well have turned out differently. Had Edward lived longer, again things could have turned out differently. And most definitely had Mary not ruled when she did, things would have been different. Political alliances often depended on religious alliances at this point, and even a very short reign could give a ruler plenty of time to either squash reform or feed it. It was a dangerous time, as well. One had to be careful on which side he stood when a monarch took the throne or when a monarch died or perhaps was executed. Even when Elizabeth I came to power after Mary died, there were many Catholic sympathizers who would have liked to see her dead and a Catholic Stuart put on the throne. Of course, that is what eventually happened, but not until Elizabeth ruled successfully for 45 years, and by then, England was not only growing in political and military power, the tide had turned in the Protestant direction, thanks to Elizabeth's efforts in that direction.