The Church of England is the established church in England. It is divided into two provinces, York and Canterbury, with 43 dioceses and approximately 27 million members. The monarch is technically at the head of the ecclesiastical structure, and the archbishops of Canterbury and York are next in line.
The beginnings of the Church of England date at least to the 2d century, when merchants and other travelers first brought Christianity to Britain. It is customary to regard St. Augustine of Canterbury's mission in 597 as marking the formal beginning of the church under papal authority, as it was to be throughout the Middle Ages. In its modern form, the church dates from the English Reformation of the 16th century, when royal supremacy was established and the authority of the papacy repudiated. With the advent of British colonization, the Church of England established churches on every continent and achieved international importance. In time, these churches gained independence, but retained connections with the mother church in the Anglican Communion.
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John E Booty
Moorman, J.R.H., A History of the Church in England, 3d rev. ed. (1973); Welsby, Paul, The History of The Church of England 1945-80 (1984).
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