Balian of Ibelin

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  • Topic: Kingdom of Jerusalem, Balian of Ibelin, Battle of Hattin
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Balian of Ibelin (c. 1134–1193) was an important noble in the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in the 12th century. Early life
He was the son of Barisan of Ibelin, and brother of Hugh and Baldwin. His father had been a knight in the County of Jaffa, and had been rewarded with the lordship of Ibelin after the revolt of Hugh II of Le Puiset. Barisan married Helvis, heiress of the wealthy lordship of Ramla. Balian's name was also Barisan, but the pronunciation of the name in Old French changed to "Balian" in the course of the 12th century; he is sometimes known as Balian the Younger or Balian II when his father is also referred to as Balian. He is also called Balian of Ramla or Balian of Nablus. In Latin his name appears variously as Balian, Barisan, Barisanus, Balianus, Balisan, and Balisanus. His precise year of birth is unknown, but he was of the age of majority in 1155, when he first appears in charters. After the death of Balian's brother Hugh in 1170, the castle of Ibelin passed to Baldwin. Baldwin, preferring to remain lord of Ramla, gave it to Balian. Balian held Ibelin as a vassal of his brother, and indirectly as a rear-vassal of the king, from whom Baldwin held Ramla. The "nobles' faction"

The Ibelins were partisans of the nobles' faction in the kingdom, made up of the lower nobility and older families who had lived there for generations; this faction was opposed to the new families of recently arrived crusaders, who tended to ally with the royal family. Balian and Baldwin supported Raymond III of Tripoli over Miles of Plancy as regent for King Baldwin IV in 1174, and in 1177 the brothers were present at the Battle of Montgisard, leading the vanguard victoriously against the strongest point of the Muslim line. That year Balian also married Maria Comnena, widow of King Amalric I, and received the lordship of Nablus, which had been a gift to Maria following her marriage to Amalric. In 1179, Baldwin was captured by Saladin after the Battle of the Ford of Jacob's Daughters, and Balian helped arrange for his ransom and release the next year; the ransom was eventually paid by Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus, Maria's great-uncle. In 1183 Balian and Baldwin supported Raymond against Guy of Lusignan, husband of Sibylla of Jerusalem and by now regent for Baldwin IV, who was dying of leprosy. Balian was present at the coronation ceremony of Baldwin V in 1183, while Baldwin IV was still alive; this was an attempt to prevent Guy from succeeding as king. It was Balian himself who carried the child Baldwin V in his arms to the ceremony. Baldwin IV died in 1185 and eight-year old Baldwin V became king, but when the young king died in 1186, Raymond's choice for the kingship, Humphrey IV of Toron (husband of Maria's daughter and Balian's step-daughter Isabella), refused the crown and swore fealty to Guy. Balian reluctantly also paid homage to Guy, while his brother refused to do so and exiled himself to Antioch. Baldwin placed Balian in charge of raising his son Thomas, the future lord of Ramla, who did not go with his father to Antioch. Dispute between Raymond and Guy

Balian remained in the kingdom, as an advisor to Guy. At the end of 1186, Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and Damascus, threatened the borders of the kingdom after Guy's ally Raynald of Chatillon, lord of Oultrejordain, had attacked a Muslim caravan and captured Saladin's sister. Saladin was allied with the garrison of Tiberias in the north of the kingdom, a territory held by Raymond III. Guy gathered his army at Nazareth, planning to besiege Tiberias, but Balian disagreed with this, and instead suggested that Guy send an embassy to Raymond in Tripoli, hoping the two could be reconciled before Guy made a foolish attack on Saladin's larger army. The first embassy was a failure and the situation remained unchanged throughout the early months of 1187. After Easter of that year, Balian, Gerard of Ridefort (Grand Master of the Knights Templar), Roger des Moulins (Grand...
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