In a short term, the MECOMA project aims at launching a joint research project about early medieval history, in a long-term perspective (from late Antiquity until the 12th cent. AD), associating three research institutes of the Universities of Louvain, Lille and Ghent. It also aims at promoting exchanges between Master students in history and between PhD students. The relevance of such a bi-national project is based on the fact that North Gaul was then a homogeneous administrative and ecclestiastical area (the County of Flanders), crossing the contemporaneous borders.
From the scientific point of view, in a medium term, MECOMA intend to reconsider the reflection on the communities of the Early Middle Ages which was long blocked by the idea that there would have been autonomous communities in their practices and representations only with the emancipation of the seigneurial domination from the end of the eleventh century. The works of Chris Wickham and Wendy Davies have shown, however, that forms of co-operation have appeared outside the seigniorial framework for much longer. Among the criteria for defining the community are not only singular social institutions and practices, but also, and above all, the more or less widely shared representation of a common history.
The phenomenon has been highlighted in recent years with regard to the formation of the barbaric peoples of the early Middle Ages, which was based on the writing and appropriation of a narrative of their origins between the 6th and 9th centuries, as well as the considerable efforts undertaken by the Carolingian rulers and their entourage to write a common history of the Empire. The writing of history has been the subject of recent and numerous works on the representation of the past within the religious communities, monasteries and chapters. But the writing of the history of more local community remains a blind spot of research. However, this phenomenon is not absent from the sources of the Early Middle Ages. Among many examples, the story of Archbishop Hincmar of Reims in the history of the parish of Folembray (in the diocese of Laon), in two letters addressed to Pope Hadrian II in 870, or the account of the translation of the relics of Saint Landoald de Wintershoven, in the diocese of Liège, as far as Ghent in 980, which opens on the history of this domain between the 8th and 10th centuries.
The MECOMA project therefore aims at exploring the sources that give a view of the history of a community (charters, hagiographical narratives, figurative documents). It also seeks to highlight the role of certain actors inside and outside the community as well as the moments when their history emerge. As an example, it should be recalled that recent works have clearly highlighted this privileged moment represented by the consecration of the local church and the way in which the memory of this event was written down. It can also be seen that these accounts come at a time when the definition and functioning of the communities were problematic. It is possible to deal with the way in which local history is grafted onto a history of regional dimension (that of an encompassing community: the monastery or the seigniory) or even "national", or is linked to that of Christianity as a whole . Finally, we will explore how history draws a certain community project, or, as Walter Pohl put it, how "the past is a resource that has a future".