The Renaissance began in the late fourteenth century and could not have taken place without the growth of the Italian city-states. At this time, Italy was not a united country; it was broken into individual states, each ruled independently by its leader. Some of the most important states include Florence, Milan, Rome and Naples.
This political state of affairs really helped the city-states to rise to great prominence. Because they were not part of a unified country, each state conducted its own affairs and collected its own taxes, without external interference. This, in turn, enabled merchants and members of guilds to become very prominent in civic and political life and this situation provides a second reason for the growth of the city-states: these merchants became extremely wealthy through the growth of trade. City-states often had a particular trade speciality: Florence, for example, was a centre of banking while Venice became known for its silk and spices. These wealthy merchants used their profits to patronise the architects, artists and writers who came to define the Renaissance, therefore encouraging this cultural revival.