Kingdom of Heaven - A FIGHT TO THE DEATH?

This map depicts the layout of Jerusalem as the city appeared around 1187. It is included (at page 68) in William R. Shepherd’s Historical Atlas, published in New York, during 1911, by Henry Holt and Company. The map is online via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, maintained by the University of Texas at Austin. Click on the public-domain image for a full-page view.


In the city important to three faiths, the defenders were defiant. Many wanted to fight, but they had no leader. Not, that is, until Balien of Ibelin arrived to fetch his wife, Queen Maria.

As soon as Balien entered the city, people were ecstatic: A leader had arrived! But Balien had sworn this oath to Saladin: He would stay in Jerusalem one night and would not bear arms.

A man of his word, Balien was now conflicted.

Tired of war, he simply wanted to take his wife to Tyre. On the other hand, Balien had a duty to defend his people and a religious obligation, he believed, to defend Jerusalem.

In an action which may seem incomprehensible today, he brought his dilemma to Saladin who relieved Balian of his oath. Balien would lead the city’s defenders while Saladin’s escort ensured Marie had safe travel to Tyre.

With the help of Queen Sibylla and the Patriarch Heraclius, Balien organized Jerusalem’s defenses. It was a hopeless cause.

Vastly outnumbered, the Christians had no chance to hold the city. Before Balien arrived, the inhabitants had already rejected Saladin’s peace offer which included these terms:

  • Surrender the city and you will not be harmed;

  • Those who wish to leave may take their property;

  • Christian places of worship will be respected;

  • Future pilgrims will be unmolested.

When the people flatly rejected his offer, Saladin swore an oath they would have to fight to the death.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Mar 19, 2016

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"A FIGHT TO THE DEATH?" AwesomeStories.com. May 01, 2005. Jan 27, 2020.
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