Melisende of Arsuf

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Melisende of Arsuf
Lady of Arsuf and Beirut
Arsuf fortress 2.JPG
Arsuf fortress, in Israel, home of the Crusader Lords of Arsuf
Spouse(s) Thierry d'Orca
John of Ibelin, the Old Lord of Beirut
Father Guy of Arsuf
Mother Unknown
Born before 1177
Died Unknown
Holy Land
Religion Roman Catholic

Melisende (born before 1177) was the hereditary Lady of Arsuf from 1177 and the second wife of the powerful nobleman John of Ibelin, the lord of Beirut (1179–1236), who led the opposition to Emperor Frederick II when he tried to impose his authority in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Cyprus.


She was born sometime before 1177, the eldest daughter of Guy of Arsuf. Her mother's name is unknown. She had a brother, Jean, Lord of Arsuf who married Helvis de Brie. When Jean died childless, Melisende inherited the lordship of Arsuf.[1][2] She had two younger sisters whose names are not recorded. One married the Chamberlain of Antioch,[1] and the other married Adam of Antioch,[1] by whom she had a son, John, Marshal of Antioch.

Arsuf or Arsur, as it was known by the Crusaders, was a lordship in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Melisende's uncle, Jean of Arsuf is recorded as having subscribed the charter, in 1177, under which King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem donated property to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.[1]

Marriages and issue[edit]

On an unknown date, Melisende married firstly Thierry d'Orca, by whom she had seven daughters, all of whom died young.[1] In 1207, she married secondly John of Ibelin, Lord of Beirut, former Constable of Jerusalem, and Regent in Acre for his half-niece Queen Maria. He was the son of Balian of Ibelin and Maria Komnene. His half-sister was Isabella, Queen of Jerusalem. Melisende was his second wife. His first wife, Helvis of Nephim, had died without leaving surviving children.

Upon their marriage, Melisende passed the lordship of Arsuf to John, increasing his territory in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Beirut was effectively an independent state under his rule, while remaining a vassal of the Sovereign. After rebuilding the city which had been destroyed by the forces of Saladin, during the latter's conquest of the Crusader kingdom, Ibelin constructed a magnificent palace.

John of Ibelin and Melisende had six sons and one daughter:


Melisende died on an unknown date. Her husband John of Ibelin died in 1236 when he was crushed by his fallen horse, while on a military campaign against the Muslims.

Melisende had many descendants, some of which included Anne of Lusignan, King Charles VIII of France, Anne of France, and all of the Dukes of Savoy, beginning with Amadeus IX.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Cawley 2011.
  2. ^ Lignages d'Outremer, Marciana MS Francese 20, CC LXXXIX, p.63