From independent Italian city-states to northern European royal boroughs, towns have been the political centres of Europe. Distinguishing between citizen and the other was a characteristic of the town long before formal political rights became an issue on a national level. Gender studies have not only criticized T. H. Marshall for being gender blind in his approach to citizenship but have also developed a concept of citizenship as a less formal, more agent-oriented analytical category through the idea of active citizenship. Focusing on agency and active citizenship brought new attention to the local citizen and political life in towns, as women's active citizenship was often practiced. The definition of political has been subject to intense debates within women's history and gender studies. Just as not all men enjoyed full citizenship, some women did have political rights. Civil status was amongst the factors including some women in citizenship and excluding some men, but so was social class.