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In English church history, Independents advocated local congregational control of religious and church matters, without any wider geographical hierarchy, either ecclesiastical or political. Independents reached particular prominence between 1642 and 1660, in the period of the English Civil War and of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, wherein the Parliamentary Army became the champion of Independent religious views against the Anglicanism or the Catholicism of Royalists and the Presbyterianism favoured by Parliament itself.

The Independents advocated freedom of religion for non-Catholics and the complete separation of church and state. During the First Civil War, an alliance between supporters of the "War Party" led by John Pym and moderate MPs brought the Independent faction to prominence in Parliament. The Independents favoured confrontation with the King and an outright military victory rather than the negotiated settlement sought by the Presbyterians of the "Peace Party". The Independents actively supported the military alliance with Scotland in 1644 and the re-organisation of the armed forces that resulted in the formation of the New Model Army in 1645. After Pride's Purge, the so-called Rump Parliament of around fifty Independent MPs sanctioned the trial and execution of King Charles in January 1649 and the creation of the republican English Commonwealth.

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