By the fifteenth century, Florence had become one of the most important trading centers of the world. At this time, Florence was an independent city-state, meaning that it governed its own affairs, and had a population of 60,000 people. Twelve artist gilds governed Florence's economy, which was primarily based on wool and textile manufacture, and they were able to successfully export this produce across the rest of Italy and to much of Western Europe. Because the workers in Florence were so heavily-regulated and highly-skilled, Florentine cloth and wool had a reputation for being of the highest quality in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, prompting people to travel far and wide to buy it.
Another important factor in its development of trade came from Florence's strong banking industry. Florence had its own currency, a gold coin called a florin, which became universally renowned for reliability and purity. As a result, people flocked to Florence to trade because they knew that they could rely on the Florin to get the best price for their wares.