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Three Romano-British bishops, including Restitutus, 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.Over time, schisms have disrupted the unity of Christianity.The major divisions occurred in c.144 with Marcionism, 318 with Arianism, 1054 to 1449 (see East–West Schism) during which time the Orthodox Churches of the East parted ways with the Western Church over doctrinal issues (see the filioque) and papal primacy, and in 1517 with the Protestant Reformation.
In 1534, King Henry VIII separated the English Church from Rome.
The Church of England has been in continuous existence since the days of St Augustine, with the Archbishop of Canterbury as its episcopal head.
Despite the various disruptions of the Reformation and the English Civil War, the Church of England considers itself to be the same church which was more formally organised by Augustine.
The governing structure of the church is based on dioceses, each presided over by a bishop. The General Synod of the Church of England is the legislative body for the church and comprises bishops, other clergy and laity.
Its measures must be approved by both Houses of Parliament.