Provisioning - Mediterranean basin - Market - Urban history - Adam Smith, Ferdinando Galiani
«The laws concerning corn may every where be compared to the laws concerning religion. The people feel themselves so much interested in what relates either to their subsistence in this life, or to their happiness in a life to come, that government must yeld to their prejudices, and, in order to preserve the public tranquility, establish that system which they approve of. It is upon this account, perhaps, that we so seldom find a reasonable system established with regard to either of those two capital objects» (Digression concerning the Corn Trade and Corn Laws, in The Wealth of Nations). The articles in this monographic issue of «Storia Urbana» want to determine the truth of this well known passage by Adam Smith about irrationality of the supply systems of cities during the old regime. The essays will focus on the relationship between urban provisioning (annona) and urban structures in important towns of the Mediterranean basin. The resilience of these institutions, but also their ability to adapt to radically different contexts, changing their form according to the context and the situation, suggest that this assertion is at least simplistic. It is therefore desirable to reopen the dossier about sustenance and provisioning in cities and states during pre-industrial age according to latest schemes and in a space-time horizon less cramped.