Image from Die Societas Jesu in Europa, 1643-1644 from Mathias Tanner, Die Gesellshafft Jesu biss zur vergiessung ihres Blutes wider den Gotzendienst Unglauben und Laster...Prague: Carlo Ferdinandeischen Universitat Buchdruckeren, 1683. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of CongressPersecution of Jesuits in England
In the image above is Brian Cansfield (1581-1643), a Jesuit priest seized while at prayer by English Protestant authorities in Yorkshire. Cansfield was beaten and imprisoned under harsh conditions. He died on August 3, 1643 from the effects of his ordeal. The picture below another Jesuit priest, Ralph Corbington (Corby) (ca. 1599-1644), who was hanged by the English government in London, September 17, 1644, for professing his faith.
King Henry VIII's 1534 Act of Supremacy declared the monarch the supreme head of the Church of England & gave him legal sovereignty of the civil laws over the laws of the Church in England. The act declared that the king was "the only supreme head on Earth of the Church of England" and that the English crown shall enjoy "all honours, dignities, preeminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits, and commodities to the said dignity." Henry abandoned the church in Rome completely.
More sex & total control over people & property are great motivators. Henry claimed his greatest concern was the lack of male heir to the throne. Henry tried for years to obtain an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Pope Clement VII refused to grant the annulment because, according to Roman Catholic teaching, a validly contracted marriage is indivisible until death. The Treasons Act was later passed: it provided that to disavow the Act of Supremacy and to deprive the King of his "dignity, title, or name" was to be considered treason. The most famous public figure to resist the Treason Act was Sir Thomas More.
The Act of Supremacy (announcing England's independence from papal authority) was repealed in 1554 by Henry's devoutly Catholic daughter Queen Mary I, as she reinstituted Catholicism as England's state religion. She executed many Protestants by burning.
Her actions were spurred a new Act of Supremacy passed in 1559, under her successor, Elizabeth I, along with an Act of Uniformity which made worship in Church of England compulsory. Anyone who took office in the English church or government was required to take the Oath of Supremacy; penalties for violating it included hanging and quartering. Attendance at Anglican services became obligatory—those who refused to attend Anglican services, whether Roman Catholics or Protestants (Puritans), were fined and physically punished.
Under Elizabeth I, the persecution of the adherents of the Reformed religion, both Anglicans and Protestants alike, which had occurred during the reign of her elder half-sister Queen Mary I was used to fuel strong anti-Catholic propaganda. Those who had died in Mary's reign, under the Marian Persecutions, were effectively canonised by this work. In 1571, the Convocation of the Church of England ordered that copies of the Book of Martyrs should be kept for public inspection in all cathedrals and in the houses of church dignitaries. The book was also displayed in many Anglican parish churches alongside the Holy Bible.
English Anti-Catholicism was grounded in the fear that the pope sought to reimpose not just religio-spiritual authority over England but also secular power over England. In 1570, Pope Pius V sought to depose Elizabeth with the papal bull Regnans in Excelsis, which declared her a heretic and purported to dissolve the duty of all Elizabeth's subjects of their allegiance to her.
In 1588, some speculated that the failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada was an attempt by Philip II of Spain to put into effect the Pope's decree. Elizabeth's persecution of Catholic Jesuit missionaries led to many executions at Tyburn. Priests like Edmund Campion who suffered there are considered martyrs by the Catholic Church, and a number of them were canonized by the Catholic Church, though at the time they were considered traitors to England.