Yes, we can. As a matter of fact, everything we know about the external world is known through history. All scientific data are historical data; all scientific knowledge is derived from observations of past instances; as of today, no one can tell for sure how the number of past instances is related to the credibility of a belief. There are no repeatable scientific experiments because one cannot step into the same river twice - we just wilfully ignored some factors as irrelevant. It is possible that Newton's laws have lifespans, and someday the errors become so intolerable that it is necessary to revise these laws. All human knowledge is conjectural: some are almost certain; some others are extremely tentative.
Just because the number of past instances is only one, it does not make the lessons learned from it less valuable. Most people would not eat again the same kind of food that once made them violently ill; most people who were bitten once develop a healthy fear of dogs. They might be wrong, but their instincts put them on the safe side.
Speaking of these "uncontrollable" historical events, shrewd observers can nevertheless isolate contributing factors and learn lessons from them. Take the Renaissance for example, Byzantine had had books and scholars for a thousand years, but they added virtually nothing to world civilization; only after these scholars took their books to Italy did the Renaissance began to take place, which started a spontaneous progress that lasted till this day. If books and scholars were the stimuli that caused Italian Renaissance, then why Byzantine, with the same books and scholars, had been stagnant for a thousand years? Bertrand Russell could not scape from the conclusion that progress had depended upon a small number of individuals of transcendent ability: Byzantine had books and scholars but no geniuses; Italy had geniuses, no books. Then what happened to Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Archimedes and all those fathers of western civilization? They quietly died out: geniuses are a species within a species - that is why their extinctions do not set off alarm.
Another example is Cromwell's revolution. After the English civil war, the English learned what kind of effects a radical revolution would most likely have, and developed a love of compromise ever since; for the next three and half centuries, no more bloody revolution ever took place in England. And, in Bertrand Russell's view, the Brits even developed a healthy disinclination towards pursuing any political theory to its logical conclusions. Ever since Cromwell and before the rise of science, gradual reforms had been characteristic of the British way of life; after the rise of science, this habit of mind is totally justified by how science works.
Another example was MacArthur's big mouth; his unrestrained public speech caused America a lot of trouble and many unnecessary deaths. Nowadays American Generals speaking softly are common; anyone who dared to speak recklessly, even in quiet whispers, was quickly relieved of command.
But I've been a philistine all this while. History offers intrinsic pleasures. If one cannot see pleasure in history itself, he had better leave history alone.