During the Reformation in the 16th century Protestants across Europe demanded the reform of the doctrine and government of the Roman Catholic Church. They questioned its traditional teachings and rejected the authority of the Pope in Rome over their own churches.
With the help of some of Europe's rulers the Catholic Church tried to suppress the new heresy. Protestants found their own support among other kings and princes. In the last thirty years of the 16th century Europe was consumed by bitter and bloody religious wars.
In the 1530s Henry VIII broke from the Roman Catholic Church and became supreme head of the Church of England. During the reign of his son, Edward VI (1547-53), Protestantism became strongly embedded within the English church.
After Edward's death, his sister, Mary I (1553-58), tried to reimpose Catholicism. Her own death thwarted this ambition and England under Elizabeth (1558-1603) eventually became the greatest Protestant power in Europe.