Skeptical History

Barzun points out the skeptical nature of early modern historians:

Until the middle of the eighteenth century, history as we know it, the habit of dealing with all problems by recording their career in time, had hardly been invented. Historians were mere chroniclers who either neglected the whole European past since the fall of Rome, or else made it into a replica of their own age. The historical attitude becomes dominant first in the works of Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Gibbon, and it is significant that in all three historical-mindedness is allied to religious skepticism.

I wonder, (a) if this is true and (b) if so, what accounts for it?

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