At the time of the Great Schism (division) between Eastern and Western Christendom in the year 1054, the Anglican Church sided with the four Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem in rejecting the novel claims of the Bishop of Rome to a primacy of jurisdiction over the entire Catholic Church. In response, the Pope blessed the Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror, to invade England and force the Church there into submission to Rome. This was accomplished in 1066, with the Norman invasion. William conquered England, seized the throne, replaced all but one of the native British bishops with Normans, and forced the Anglican Church to submit to papal authority. For the next four and a half centuries the English Church maintained an uneasy, sometimes beneficial and sometimes stormy, relationship with the papacy.
With the separation of the Roman Patriarchate in the West from the other four ancient Patriarchates, the Catholic Church, which had remained united for a millennium, was divided into two. The Catholics of the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem are called Orthodox Christians or Orthodox Catholics, meaning correct doctrine and worship, because they have not changed, and their Church is known as the Orthodox or the Orthodox Catholic Church to this day. The Church in the West was known as the Roman, or the Holy Roman, Church. The Anglican Church, ecclesia anglicana, was part of the Orthodox Church until the Norman conquest in 1066. The last Anglo-Saxon king, King Harold, who died in battle against the Normans on October 14th, 1066, is known as a “passion bearer” because he died to defend Orthodox England, and is considered a saint by many Orthodox Christians in the West.
Lanfranc, a Lombard Abbott, helped gain William of Normandy the support of his barons for the invasion of England by casting it as a crusade to bring the English Church into submission to the papacy. For doing this he was awarded the position of Archbishop of Canterbury after the conquest.
David Howarth, in his 1066 The Year of the Conquest, explains: “The invasion should not be seen as a merely secular conquest; its highest aim should be, or appear to be, the reformation of the English church. It should become a crusade, a holy war to bring back an errant church to Rome. Lanfranc himself, or the Norman church as a body, was willing to bring accusations against the church of England” (p. 100).
Howarth continues, “Perhaps its principal sin was merely to be different: much of its scholarship and all of its pastoral work were in English instead of Latin, and it was easy for other churchmen to suspect that schisms and heresies were hidden by such a barbarous language. But finally, whatever was said against it, the fact remained that the English then were a devoutly religious people and were satisfied on the whole that their church provided for their spiritual needs” (ibid.). And it should be noted that the English Church not only did its pastoral work in English rather than Latin, but that it had married deacons and priests as well as celibate monks and nuns.
In 1534, the Anglican Church was finally able to renounce papal supremacy and end centuries of papal control that had been uncanonically established by force of arms. In that year, Convocation, the governing body of the Church of England, declared that “the Bishop of Rome hath not, by Scripture, any greater authority in England than any other foreign bishop.”