History, dear Reader, is a peculiar art and a strange science. A school of study of past and very often ancient events conducted by animals who have it in their nature to disagree about how an event freshly born in front of their eyes, in the contemporary moment, unfolded.
Such a hindrance to our understanding of the universal truth of any event is not to be derided, as it is imprinted on our very being. Since Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, our species has lost the gift of naïve ignorance, and instead been cursed with the affliction of curiosity. And any hope of uniformity of opinion for the species was dashed and torn asunder when the Deity, jealously protective of his home in the High Heavens, cursed us with diversity of dialect (and hence culture), at the foot of the Tower of Babel.
We must accept, therefore, a certain inbred inability to arrive at consensus. Indeed, the events of the Titanomachy show us that even the gods bicker; therefore, what hope does the mortal have at achieving uniformity of thought?
This affliction affects the historian in a cruel way, as it is he who is tasked with sifting through the ancient dust of a not always fossilized past, to find a strand of truth in the archaic abyss, and introduce it to the skeptical light of the modern (contemporary) day. Add this to the species pestiferous preference for the Now over the Then, and we can see another obstacle that impedes the historians ability to glean from the archives true truth: the omnipresent pressure to fit one’s findings into whatever zeitgeistian mold is currently in vogue.
Spirits, being constituted out of the material of the ether, are (probably, but not exclusively, to the benefit of mankind) temporary. The spirits that provide a subliminal skeletal structure to Man’s mental regime change form (and hence the flow of our thoughts) over time and events. Cerebral Standards rise and fall on the battlefields of thought, depending on temporal and temporary circumstance.
In our current age the secular Standard is raised. Secular issues are thus elevated in their importance, while ecclesiastical episodes wane in theirs, relative our use of them to define the ‘truth’ of an event or set of circumstances.
It is because of this peculiar phenomenon that, in contemporary times, things that may appear obvious to the people at the time of an event appear to a historian observing the events through musty books and contemporary filters as utterly ridiculous. Because the contemporary viewer is not haunted with the spirit of a particular time, they find it impossible to believe that the people of the particular time were haunted by it either. Secret motives are sought, undercurrents are mapped, and the minutia surrounding an event can be elevated to the central stage of ‘Cause’ in the equation of ‘Cause and Effect’.
This phenomenon, I submit, dear Reader, is perhaps what is responsible for the stripping away of the importance religion had on the people of France during the Wars of Religion by the modern scholar.