Sir Christopher Bayly, who has died suddenly aged 69, was the pre-eminent historian of India and the British empire and a pioneer of the field of global history. In 2007 he was the first scholar to be knighted “for services to history outside of Europe”. His adult life was anchored in Cambridge, where he was fellow of St Catharine’s College from 1970 and professor of imperial and naval history from 1992 to 2013. But his distinction was international: he held appointments and received honours in India, Europe, the US and Australia; and at his death he held concurrently professorships at Chicago, Copenhagen and Queen Mary University of London.
Bayly was a virtuoso historian, both prolific, writing a dozen influential books, and with an unequalled intellectual range. His work crossed economic, social, political, cultural and intellectual history, the histories of the visual arts and the natural sciences, of intelligence and war. It spanned the last three centuries, and from its focus of attention on Asia, intervened in the histories of Britain, Europe, the Americas and the Pacific.