Anglicanism, one of the major branches of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation and a form of Christianity that includes features of both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.
it has been disposed to allow widely divergent interpretations.
Under King Henry VIII in the 16th century, the Church of England broke with Rome, largely because Pope Clement VII refused to grant Henry an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Wishing no reform—except along the lines of Erasmus’s Christian humanism—Henry intended to replace Rome’s authority over the English church with his own. Upon Henry’s death, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer began changes that allied the Church of England with the Reformation. His The Book of Common Prayer revised traditional forms of worship to incorporate Protestant ideas. These efforts, however, were overturned by Queen Mary, who sought to restore Roman Catholicism in England. When Elizabeth I assumed the throne in 1558, the Reformation in England triumphed.
Richard Hooker defended the church against attacks by English Puritans and Catholics. Although the Puritans achieved political power in the Commonwealth in the mid-17th century, the subsequent Restoration (1660) marked the beginning of more than a century of great influence for the Church of England.
Evangelical laity such as William Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect fought slavery and encouraged social reform.
The church’s great missionary societies were important agents of its growth beyond England. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (founded in 1699), the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (1701), and the Church Missionary Society (begun in 1799) achieved a global identity.
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