He fought Saladin to a stand-still, yet retained his respect..
Balian was born in the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem around the middle of the 12th century (the exact year is not recorded). Based on witnesses for charters in the first half of the 12th century, historians have tried to piece together a family history, but they do not agree among themselves. The most plausible theory, however, is that Balian was the third son of the First Baron of Ibelin, a relatively small barony that had been created in the mid-1140s as a bulwark against the city of Ascalon, then a major stronghold of the Egyptians and frequently used for raids against Jerusalem.
The First Baron of Ibelin died in or about 1150, and was succeed as Baron of Ibelin by his eldest son Hugh. However, it is not certain that Hugh (always referred to as "of Ibelin,") also inherited the baronies of Ramla and Mirabel, to the First Baron's widow Helvis was heiress. Some historians postulate that Helvis did not become an heiress until after the death of her brother, shortly before Hugh's own death. Another explanation is that Hugh was the son of an earlier marriage and so only entitled to his paternal inheritance, while Ramla and Mirabel went immediately to Helvis' eldest son, Baldwin. In any case, Hugh died childless in or about 1171, and the titles of Ibelin, Ramla and Mirabel were then jointly held by Baldwin.