Arsuf was settled in the sixth or fifth century BCE, and was known as Arshuf (the name comes from Reshef, the Canaanite-Phoenician god of fertility and the underworld). Arshuf grew in size as the result of its production of purple dye, which it exported to the Roman Empire.
In 1101 Arsuf fell to a Crusader army led by Baldwin I of Jerusalem. The Crusaders, who called the city as Arsur, rebuilt the city's walls. In 1187 Arsuf was captured by the Muslims, but fell again to the Crusaders on September 7, 1191 after a battle between Richard I of England and Saladin.
John of Ibelin, Lord of Beirut (1177-1236) became Lord of Arsur in 1207 when he married Melisende of Arsur (born c.1170). Their son John of Arsur (c.1211-1258) inherited the title. The title then passed to John of Arsur's eldest son Balian (1239-1277).