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A map showing the provinces of the Anglican Communion (blue). Also shown are the churches in full communion with the Anglicans: The churches of the Porvoo Communion (green) and the Union of Utrecht (red)

Anglicanism most commonly refers to the beliefs and practices of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide affiliation of Christian churches. There is no single "Anglican Church" with universal juridical authority, since each national or regional church has full autonomy. As the name suggests, the communion is an association of churches in full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. With an estimated 80 million members, the Anglican Communion is the third largest communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Anglicanism, in its structures, theology and forms of worship, is understood as a distinct Christian tradition representing a middle ground between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism and, as such, is often referred to as being a via media ("middle way") between these traditions. Anglicans uphold the Catholic and Apostolic faith and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In practice Anglicans believe this is revealed in Holy Scripture and the creeds and interpret these in light of Christian tradition, scholarship, reason and experience.

One definition of the Anglican Communion is: "The 1930 Lambeth Conference described the Anglican Communion as a 'fellowship, within the one holy catholic and apostolic church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional churches in communion with the see of Canterbury.'" - Colin Buchanan, Historical Dictionary of Anglicanism

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Print of the Priestley Riots
The Priestley Riots took place from 14 to 17 July 1791 in Birmingham, England; their main targets were religious Dissenters, most notably the religious and political controversialist, Joseph Priestley. Driven by anger over the Dissenters' attempts to gain full civil rights and their support of the French revolution, the rioters attacked or burned four Dissenting chapels, twenty-seven houses and several businesses. While the riots were not initiated by William Pitt's administration, the national government was slow to respond to the Dissenters' pleas for help and overjoyed at their plight. Local Birmingham officials seem to have been involved in the planning of the riots and were reluctant to prosecute any ringleaders after they ended.

The riots revealed that the Anglican gentlemen of the town were not averse to using violence against Dissenters who they viewed as potential revolutionaries. They had no qualms, either, about raising a potentially uncontrollable mob. Many of those attacked left Birmingham; as a result, the town became noticeably more conservative after the riots. The remaining supporters of the French revolution decided not to hold a dinner celebrating Bastille Day the following year.

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Cobbe portrait of Shakespeare.jpg
Credit: Unknown artist, possibly photographed by Oli Scarff

Debate continues about William Shakespeare's religion. Some scholars claim that members of Shakespeare's family were Roman Catholics. Scholars find evidence both for and against Shakespeare's Anglicanism in his plays, but the truth may be impossible to prove either way.

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Archbishop Joseph Ferguson Peacocke

Selected biography

Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, of which Chadwick was Dean for ten years.
Henry Chadwick KBE (23 June 1920 – 17 June 2008) was a British academic and Church of England clergyman. A former Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford (pictured)—and as such also head of Christ Church, Oxford—he also served as Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, becoming the first person in four centuries to have headed a college at both universities. A leading historian of the early church, Chadwick was appointed Regius Professor at both the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He was a noted supporter of improved relations with the Roman Catholic Church, and a leading member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). An accomplished musician, having studied music to degree level, he took a leading part in the revision and updating of hymnals widely used within Anglicanism, chairing the board of the publisher, Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd., for twenty years. After his death, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams wrote, "'The Anglican church,' it was said, 'may not have a Pope, but it does have Henry Chadwick.'" and further described him as an "aristocrat among Anglican scholars".

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