History is not about what things might have meant, but what they did (and do) mean to the people of the time, or rather what they were thought to mean, and how what they were thought to mean affected behaviour, attitude, culture and the evolution of any object or idea as an artifact of history. And the fact is that what Gebelin thought they meant had arguably far more impact historically than anything they might have meant (which is still up for debate). And the importance of this book (Explaining the Tarot) is in that it shows us what the Tarot sequence was thought to represent to two people of the renaissance, which may or may not be completely unrelated to any blueprint we care to imagine. They are as speculative of anyones before of after. Are you saying we should dismiss them as irrelevant speculations, at odds with yours and MJH's 'authoritive' speculations, and thus of no interest on a historical forum?
Of course it is not meaningless to discuss, investigate or argue about what the allegorical figures in their sequence might have meant. However, as much as you opine otherwise, the 'null hypothesis' remains the baseline, naming a few themes among dozens it has in common from the time and prevalent in the education or fall of princes, moralities, plays and poetry doesn't negate that, but rather exemplifies it. Yes, it is full of such common themes as you mention and others of the time such as may be found in art, morality plays and poems in a roughly hierarchal order.
Of course we both see patterns in this order, as sane men and madmen do in inkblots; and you understand I am playing devils advocate here and still stand by my theory of the underlying theme of (augustinian) two loves, hierogamy and symmetry of the Tarot de Marseille pattern (I am not an advacate of one size/theory fits all - each pattern has its own tale or variation)
Well, I make no claims of knowing the methods that professional historians use to do research. I do know the methods of "Duck" however. If it looks like one, walks like one, and quacks like one....
I also certainly don't claim to be "an authority". I don't believe Mike Hurst does either. It isn't about Mr. Hurst, or anyone else. It is about the evidence. You may find these conclusions lacking, but I think given the evidence, they are highly probable. If by 'null hypothesis' you mean we may never know for absolute certain, then I agree. If, however you mean that any theory is just as good as any other, then I disagree. Some theories are simply more likely than others. A few are outright rubbish. Unless we channel the spirit of Paolo the card-maker, it is always going to be a issue of probability, never an absolute certainty. So, I reckon history is about "mights" after all. How can we ever know with absolute certainty why Cleopatra hooked up with that nasty ol' Caesar. We can take a pretty good educated guess though.
Anyway, let's have that wine & cheese!!