Italy is sometimes called the source of the Renaissance. During the 14th Century, wealthy families in the Italian cite states kept a firm hand on the political reigns, and the resulting gevernments were quite stable. Renowned as traders, Italian merchants brought their countrymen into contact with different cultures and ideas.
Rich Italian patrons built new libraries and hired artists and sculptors to decorate their homes, cathedrals, and public buildings. Naturally they had a strong voice in the deciding the art and styles of the times.