Is the kingdom of heaven real?

Baldwin IV of Jerusalem

Baldwin IV of Jerusalem

Biographical information


Social information

prevails over



  • Sibylla of Jerusalem (sister)
  • Baldwin V of Jerusalem (nephew)
  • Guy de Lusignan (brother-in-law)


Statistical information

killed by


king Baldwin IV.[1](* 1161, ✝ March 16, 1185, Jerusalem) is king of Jerusalem. His leprosy illness forced him to wear a silver mask in order to spare his entourage the sight of his face, which was disfigured by the illness.


Early life

Baldwin IV was born around 1161 as the younger child of King Amaury I of Jerusalem. He has an older sister[2], Sibylla of Jerusalem. Godfrey von Ibelin is one of his teachers.

Even before his accession to the throne, when he was playing with other boys, he injured his arm. Godfrey notices that the boy feels no pain and is certain that the young prince has leprosy because it makes him numb. Weeping, he reports to the father before the king's physicians can confirm the statement[3]. Because of this illness, he cannot marry or have children. Ensuring the succession to the throne rests with his sister Sibylla. Through her he becomes the uncle of the later King Baldwin V. Her second husband, Guy de Lusignan, is skeptical about Baldwin IV because he rejects his fanaticism against the Muslims.

In 1174 he succeeds his father to the throne at the age of thirteen. Than to be Bailli[4] acts Raymond of Tiberias[5], a close friend of Godfrey. The enemies of the kingdom mean, with a child king, the one Bailli the government must leave it to be an easy game. But they are wrong. In 1177, at the age of sixteen, Baldwin achieved a grandiose victory over Saladin, which would accompany him until the end of his life.

As a young adult at the latest, he is forced to wear a silver mask in order to spare those around him the horrible sight of his face, which has been disfigured by leprosy. From this point on, he no longer dines in the company of his entourage. His sister avoids his presence because the sight of him is unbearable to her.

From 1178 he tried to achieve peace with Saladin and was able to conclude an armistice with him. He also explains that Jerusalem should be a place where everyone, regardless of belief, is welcome. He thereby takes over the tolerance of the former Muslim rulers of Jerusalem.[6]

Kingdom of heaven

In 1184 he received the news that his teacher Godfrey had died in Messina and that his illegitimate son Balian was the heir of his goods, but also of his duties[7]. Tiberias invites Balian to dinner at the palace - apparently with consent or even on behalf of Baldwin. During the meal, Baldwin asked Godfrey's son to come to him.

When Balian arrives, Baldwin tells him about Godfrey and the discovery of his illness. He invites him to his chess table and asks if he is playing chess, which Balian answers with "no". Baldwin explains to him:

“The whole world is in chess. Move away from the point where you begin and you cannot be sure of your end. "
- King Baldwin IV to Balian von Ibelin in Kingdom of Heaven, Director's Cut, DVD chapter 23, King Leprosy

To his additional question, whether Balian was ever sure of his end, the monosyllabic replied "Yes". Baldwin is too thin. He wants to know what kind of end that was. Balian tells him: "My grave was a hundred paces from where I was born." It is the answer of a person who has never seen the possibility of ever leaving his village. "And now?" The king asked. "Now I am in Jerusalem and am sitting in front of a king," replied Balian. Baldwin recognizes from this answer that Balian is clever enough to understand that in the chess game of life he has moved away from the starting point - and is certainly no longer sure of his end. Balduin continues:

“When I was sixteen I had a great victory. That day I thought I was going to be a hundred years old. Now I know that I won't even be thirty "
- Baldwin IV to Balian von Ibelin in Kingdom of Heaven, Director's Cut, DVD chapter 23, King Leprosy

He makes it clear to Balian that it is important to lead a morally impeccable life, even against the resistance of allegedly superior people:

“Neither of us knows what its end will be like or whose hand will lead it there. A king may have demands on a man, a father may have demands on his son. And this man can also challenge himself. And only then can this man truly play his own game. Remember: No matter how you play with you or who: Your soul belongs to you alone. Even if those who play with you are kings or men of power, when you stand before God you cannot say that you were commanded to do one way or another, or that virtue was not appropriate. That won't be enough. Always remember. "
- Baldwin IV to Balian von Ibelin in Kingdom of Heaven, Director's Cut, DVD chapter 23, King Leprosy

Balian promises to do so. Baldwin checks his new baron and gives him a drawing of the fortress and asks him if he knows what it is. Balian recognizes what it is about and gives the correct answer. The king realizes that Balian doesn't really like what he sees. Baldwin, impressed, asks him to say how he would do it. Balian draws a cross-shaped wall with a few strokes and suggests building one or - even better - a star-shaped wall, because this is how the city is to be defended, no matter from which side the enemy is advancing. Baldwin is satisfied and dismisses Balian to Ibelin, pointing out that it now belongs to him. He gives him the task of protecting the pilgrimage path.

“Pay special attention to the Jews and the Muslims. Everyone is welcome in Jerusalem! Not just because it serves the purpose, but because it is right. Protect the helpless. And one day, when I am helpless, you will come and protect me. "
- Baldwin IV to Balian von Ibelin. in Kingdom of Heaven, Director's Cut, DVD chapter 23, King Leprosy.

Baldwin recognizes in Balian's answers and behavior that he is a suitable alternative to Guy de Lusignan, who - if he comes to power through Sibylla - will wage war against the Muslims. With the agreement of her brother, she visits Balian in Ibelin and stays longer[8].

While Sibylla is in Ibelin, Tiberias accuses Reynald de Châtillon of breaking the peace with an attack on a caravan. The Grand Master of the Templars and Balduin's brother-in-law Guy de Lusignan defend the absent Reynald. Before Baldwin can make a judgment, a messenger appears and gives him a message. The king reads it immediately and learns that Saladin has crossed the Jordan with 200,000 men. It is clear to Tiberias that he will march to Kerak first. Baldwin orders the troops to be assembled, which the Templars also responded with cheers. He announces that he will lead the army himself - even against Raymond's warning that he will not survive such a journey alive. He also orders that Balian be informed that he should protect the people.

The army of Jerusalem, under the personal leadership of the young king, reaches Kerak when Balian's men have just been defeated by Imad's horsemen, but the survivors are given permission to retreat to Kerak. Baldwin meets with Saladin for a brief negotiation in the open. He asks the Sultan to withdraw his forces, otherwise everyone would die here. He agrees that Reynald will be punished. Saladin is convinced of this and orders the withdrawal. He also promises to send his personal physicians to the terminally ill Baldwin.

The king moves into Kerak and is greeted by de Châtillon, who is festively dressed. Baldwin unmistakably demands Reynald's submission and the kiss of peace on his leprous hand, on which no finger is complete. Reynald dutifully kisses the king's hand, Baldwin hits him several times in the face as a first punishment with a riding crop, but realizes that he has taken on himself with it in his weakened condition. He collapses and can only barely be caught by two of his soldiers, whom Tiberias waves to. You help him into a litter that was taken as a precaution.

Baldwin notices Balian, deranged from the fight, standing modestly at the gate with his surviving men, and waves him over. He says to him:

"If you continue like this, I will have to find a job for you - that is, if God can do without you."
- Baldwin IV to Balian von Ibelin in Kingdom of Heaven Director's Cut, DVD Chapter 33, The Kiss of Peace

Balian says that God doesn't know him, but Baldwin replies: "But I know you." It remains unclear where the king got the information about what Balian did for the fleeing people at the risk of his life and that of his men, but he wants to honor Balian for it.

Baldwin knows that he doesn't have much longer to live. He wants to regulate his earthly affairs and also ensure an orderly transfer of power into the right hands. With Tiberias and Sibylla, after Balian's heroic deed by Kerak, Baldwin decides to replace Guy with Balian[9]. He has Balian called to him, makes it clear that Guy de Lusignan will break the peace if he comes to power through Sibylla, who will be regent for her son when her brother is dead. He offers him the supreme command of the army of Jerusalem and asks him to protect his nephew. Balian is thoroughly taken with this honor and agrees, agrees to do everything that Baldwin asks of him. But when Baldwin tries to give him Sibylla's hand, Balian asks what about Guy. Tiberias declares that he will be executed - along with his knights, who will not swear allegiance to Balian. Balian refuses, horrified, does not want to be the reason for it. He points out to Baldwin on his own admonition that the soul of a person belongs to that person alone. Baldwin nods and confirms that these were his words. Balian bows slightly and says the king has his love - and his answer. Baldwin accepts the conscientious decision of his liegeman, but he is aware that with Balian's refusal to participate in this intrigue, Guy as the future regent's consort will break the laboriously maintained peace, provided that Sibylla's son is crowned king.

Saladin's doctors come to the palace in Jerusalem and do their best to slow down the king's decline. But Baldwin has lost his courage to face life after the vassal, on whom he has placed all his hopes, shows a conscience that functions too well. When the patriarch appears and asks the king to confess, he abruptly refuses and sends him away to prepare the coronation of his nephew with his clergy.

A little later he feels his end is approaching and asks Tiberias to fetch Sibylla. His sister comes when Baldwin has just nodded off briefly. Your touch wakes him up. He enjoys the sight of the beautiful woman one more time, asks her forgiveness if he should have caused her pain and says goodbye to her. Baldwin IV dies with the memory of his great victory over Saladin.


Baldwin IV of Jerusalem is played by Edward Norton and dubbed in the German version by Jaron Löwenberg.

Edward Norton refrained from being named in the credits, possibly because he is never recognizable through the mask or bandages that cover his face.

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ The name is never mentioned in the film. The action time fits into Baldwin's IV reign. Besides, there was no king of Jerusalem who died of leprosy at the age of just 24.
  2. ↑ The historical younger half-sister Isabella, who was the daughter of the stepmother of Baldwin and Sibyllas - Maria Komnena - is not mentioned in the film, as is the fact that Isabella lived with her mother and her second husband Balian von Ibelin. That would not have gone together with a young Balian whom Sibylla falls in love with.
  3. ^ Testimony of Baldwin to Balian von Ibelin.
  4. ↑ Bailli: One of the offices of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which is only awarded if the king is incapable of governing because of immaturity or illness.
  5. ↑ Raymond of Tiberias is modeled on Raymond of Tripoli, as author William Monahan mentions in the commentary on the DVD. Since Raymond of Tripoli ruled several times as Bailli for Baldwin IV, Tiberias would be the one who must have ruled for the underage king.
  6. ↑ Testimony of the Johanniter to Balian von Ibelin in DVD chapter 20, The Marshal of Jerusalem.
  7. ↑ After both versions of the script, Godfrey wrote letters from Messina to Jerusalem, with which he announced Balian's arrival and his position as heir to the king. In the film, this is not explicitly mentioned in the theatrical version or in the director's cut. Before Balian's appearance at the palace, however, Sibylla knows who Balian is. So there has to be information to the royal family. Theoretically, the Hospitaller could have instructed the king personally accordingly.
  8. ↑ This is not explicitly mentioned in the film, but since Baldwin later mentions the danger that Guy will represent if he gains power through Sibylla, it is likely that she will travel to Ibelin in agreement with Baldwin, if not his direct Assignment.
  9. ↑ The conspiracy is neither presented directly in the film nor in the script, but results from the later statements made to Balian von Ibelin.