Although Christians were present in England since the fourth century or earlier, the Church of England traces its roots to Augustine of Canterbury, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, in the seventh century. See history of the Church of England. The English Church was under the jurisdiction of Rome until the reign of Henry VIII. The break with Rome came when Pope Clement VII refused to annul Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Henry turned to Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, for his annulment, and upon procuring it, married Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII was excommunicated by Pope Clement VII in 1533.
Making himself the head of the church not only made it possible for Henry to divorce but also gave him access to the considerable wealth that the Church had amassed. This was however at a time of major religious upheaval in Western Europe called the Reformation and some split was probably inevitable. As it is the Church of England retained a form of worship closer to the Catholic form than other Protestant churches. For example, the church has a hierarchical organization. The head of the Church of England is officially the reigning monarch, but its effective chief cleric remains the Archbishop of Canterbury. It has its own court system known as the Ecclesiastical courts.
wikipedia.org dumped 2003-03-17 with terodump