Balian I Grenier was the Count of Sidon and one of the most important lords of the Kingdom of Jerusalem from 1202 to 1241. He succeeded his father Renaud. His mother was Helvis, a daughter of Balian of Ibelin. He was a powerful and important representative of the native aristocracy during the three Levantine crusades of the first half of the thirteenth century.
During the Fifth Crusade, Balian advised the troops of Andrew II of Hungary against sallying into the deserted regions of his county of Sidon, regions almost under Saracen control. The Hungarians refused to listen, however, and many were massacred during a Turcoman ambush.
During the Sixth Crusade, Balian supported the Emperor Frederick II for the throne of Jerusalem. He negotiated with Giordano Filangieri, the marshal of Sicily, sent by Frederick in 1228 to represent his authority in Acre until the emperor could make the trip in person. Balian was the chief native ally of the crusaders at the time when they were not well received by the locals. He supported the Emperor and his Germanisation, but tried, as with the previous crusade, to prevent a bloodbath. In 1229, Frederick left Balian in charge of Tyre and in 1231 he gave him the co-regency (bailiwick) of the kingdom with Garnier l'Aleman.
During the crusade of Theobald I of Navarre in 1239, he participated in the battle near Ascalon between crusader and Egyptian forces. Against his good judgement, Amaury VI of Montfort and Henry II of Bar charged the Egyptians and were routed.
Balian later received the castle of Shaqil Arnun, which his father had defended by a ruse from Saladin in 1190, from the sultan As-Salih Ayyub. He died in 1240 or, according to Philip of Novara, 1241. His son Julian succeeded him in Sidon, the greater part of which had been recovered by Balian. He was betrothed to Marguerite of Brienne, who was seduced by Emperor Frederick II (daughter of the Count of Brienne, older brother of John of Brienne), and ultimately he married Ida de Reynel.
- Setton, Kenneth M. (general editor) A History of the Crusades: Volume II — The Later Crusades, 1189 – 1311. Robert Lee Wolff and Harry W. Hazard, editors. University of Wisconsin Press: Milwaukee, 1969.