During the summer of 1187 Saladin had taken control of most of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Many refugees fleeing the might of Saladin’s army had fled to the city of Tyre. One refugee, a high ranking lord, Balian of Ibelin, asked Saladin to provide him safe passage to the city of Jerusalem so that he might rescue his wife and bring her to the safety of Tyre. Saladin agreed on condition that Balian did not stay longer than one day in Jerusalem.
Upon arrival at Jerusalem the residents of the city begged Balian of Ibelin to remain with them and take control of defending the city against Saladin’s attack. Although he disliked breaking the oath he had made to Saladin, Balian was persuaded that he should remain in Jerusalem for the sake of Christianity.
Balian immediately began stock piling food, water and money in preparation for the siege that Saladin would place the city under. They were buoyed somewhat by the news that Tyre had resisted Saladin’s siege.
Saladin placed the city of Jerusalem under siege on 20th September 1187. His archers fired volleys of arrows at the city and siege towers were pushed to the walls. For six days Jerusalem’s defences held, Balian’s men were able to counter-attack from the city gates and Saladin suffered losses.
On 26th September, Saladin moved his forces to a different part of the city, without a gate, which made it difficult for Balian’s forces to counter-attack. Miners also used explosives under the city walls and on 29th September a portion of the wall collapsed.
By the end of September it was clear that Jerusalem could not withstand Saladin’s attack indefinitely and Balian rode out of the city to meet Saladin to try to negotiate a surrender. It was agreed that the city would be surrendered peaceably to Saladin and that all inhabitants would pay a ransom to Saladin. Those that could not pay would be sold into slavery.
The city was duly surrendered to Saladin on 2nd October 1187.
On 29th October Pope Gregory VIII called for a third crusade to free Jerusalem from the infidel. The third crusade, led by Richard III of England, Philip Augustus of France and Frederick Barbarossa of Germany finally began in 1189.