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Church of England or Anglican Church the Christian church in England dating from the introduction of Christianity into that country More specifically it is the branch of the Christian church that since the Reformation has been the established Church of England The earliest unquestioned historical evidence of an organized Christian church in England is found in the writings of such early Christian fathers as Tertullian and Origen in the first years of the 3rd century although the first Christian communities probably were established some decades earlier Three English bishops are known to have been present at the Council of Arles in 314 Others attended the Council of Sardica in 347 and that of Ariminum in 360 and a number of references to the church in Roman Britain are found in the writings of 4th-century Christian fathers The ritual and discipline of the early English church were largely introduced by the Celtic and Gallic missionaries and monks but after the arrival of St Augustine and his missionary companions from Rome in 597 and the ensuing fusion of Celtic and Roman influences the Celtic forms gradually gave way to the liturgy and practices of the Roman West During the next four centuries the church in Saxon England exhibited the same lines of growth and development that characterized the church everywhere in the early Middle Ages After the Norman Conquest 1066 continental influence in England strengthened the connections between the English church and the papacy The vigorous assertions of power successfully made by popes from Gregory VII to Innocent III between the late 11th and the early 13th centuries were felt in England as elsewhere and clerical influence and privilege were widely extended in secular affairs Several times during the medieval period English kings sought to limit the power of the church and the claims of its independent canon law but without success until the reign of Henry VIII A National Church The acts of Parliament
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