A question from Yahoo! Answers:
Why did the Renaissance begin in Northern Italy?
Competition between noblemen. In 13th century Northern Italy, a skilled artist or craftsman didn’t have to walk far to find a patron. And if one patron didn’t work out, there always was another one close by.
France, in comparison, spent most of the 13th century under the rule of king Louis IX, a zealous Catholic, a crusader, a friend of Inquisition, and a Jew hater.
In other words, Northern Italy was a diverse environment, while France in comparison was almost a monoculture…