Menelik II - Emperor of Ethiopia, Life Achievements and Childhood

Home  ›  Ethiopian  ›  Menelik IIAugust 17, 1844307 views

0.0 based on 0 rates

Menelik II's Personal Details

Menelik II was the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1889 to 1913

InformationDetail
BirthdayAugust 17, 1844
Died onDecember 12, 1913
NationalityEthiopian
FamousEmperor of Ethiopia, Emperors, Ethiopian Emperors, Kings, Historical Personalities, Emperors & Kings
SpousesAltash Tewodros, Befana Gatchew, Taytu Betul
Childrens Zewditu
Birth PlaceAngolalla Tera
ReligionEthiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
GenderMale
FatherHaile Melekot
Sun SignLeo
Born inAngolalla Tera
Famous asEmperor of Ethiopia
Died at Age69

// Famous Kings

Menelik II's photo

Who is Menelik II?

Menelik II was the King of Shewa (1865–89), and the Emperor of Ethiopia (1889–1913). One of the most popular kings to have ruled over the African nation, he embarked on extensive expansion campaigns leading to the creation of a modern empire-state by 1898. A courageous and valiant warrior, he led his army to repel an invasion attempt by the Italians which earned him great fame and glory. Menelik was the son of Haile Melekot, the King of Shewa, and a court servant. Even though his parents were not married to each other at the time of his birth, his grandfather declared him as a legitimate heir. His forefathers had ruled over the kingdom of Shewa from the 17th century. His father died in a battle when Menelik was a young boy and Menelik himself was taken captive by the enemies. He eventually escaped and returned to his homeland which had since then been taken over by Bezebeh. A brave young man, Menelik successfully ousted Bezebeh and became the ruler of the kingdom that was rightfully his. Over the years he gained a reputation for fighting off Italian invaders and for expanding his territories. He was also known for modernizing Ethiopia and was respected for being a just and kind king

// Famous Emperors

Childhood & Early Life

Menelik II was born as Sahle Maryam on August 17, 1844, in Angolalla, Shewa. His father Haile Melekot was the Negus (King) of Shewa while his mother Woizero Ijigayehu, was a servant in the household of Haile Melekot's grandmother, Woizero Zenebework.

His parents were unmarried at the time of his birth though they got married afterwards. In spite of being born out of wedlock, the child was ordered legitimized by his grandfather, and Haile Melekot named him the successor to the throne of Shewa.

In 1855, Tewodros II, the Emperor of Ethiopia, invaded the kingdom of Shewa. Haile Melekot died in one of the early battles and Menelik was captured and taken to Tewodros II’s mountain stronghold of Magdala. The young prince was just 11 years old.

Tewodros treated the prince well. He took a special interest in his education and ensured that he received martial training and learned about politics. The boy was even made a dejazmach, or earl, and was offered the hand of the emperor’s daughter, Altash, in marriage.

Meanwhile, Menelik’s uncle, Haile Mikael had been appointed as Meridazmach (“Supreme General”) of Shewa by Tewodros II. However, Haile Mikael rebelled against the Emperor and he replaced him with Bezebeh. He too rebelled against the Emperor and proclaimed himself Negus of Shewa.

Ascension & Reign

After being in the captivity of Tewodros II for ten long years, Menelik was ultimately successful in escaping in July 1865. Aged 21 by now, he was a strong, well-built, and courageous youth who was determined to reclaim the throne of Shewa that rightfully belonged to him.

Menelik returned to Shewa and Bezebeh attempted to raise an army against him. However, Menelik had overwhelming public support and he proclaimed himself Negus.

After reclaiming Shewa, he set his ambitions higher and laid claim to the imperial throne. However, he did not take any overt action for as long as Emperor Tewodros was alive. Tewodros died in 1868 and Menelik decided to take action regarding his claim to the emperor’s throne.

Menelik was not the only claimant to the throne. Yohannes IV, a very powerful Ethiopian prince also vied for the emperor’s crown and was successful in becoming the Emperor of Ethiopia in1871.

Meanwhile Menelik focused on expanding his territories and directed his ambitions to the south and east. He successfully captured Arusi, Harer (Harar), Jima, Kefa (Kaffa), and several kingdoms of southern Ethiopia thus extensively adding to his territories.

Emperor Yohannes was killed in the Battle of Gallabat in March 1889, providing an opportunity for Menelik to claim the throne he desperately sought. Menelik acted quickly and was crowned Negus Negast (king of kings), or Emperor, on November 3, 1889.

Menelik had signed the Treaty of Wuchale with the Italians on May 2, 1889, ceding the northern province of Eritrea to Italy. However, there was a confusion regarding the interpretation of an article of the treaty—the Italian version declared Ethiopia in effect a protectorate of Italy while there was nothing in the Ethiopian version to support this claim.

In 1893, Menelik renounced the entire treaty and launched an attack on the Italians who had established themselves along the Red Sea coast. Several small battles were fought between the Italians and the Ethiopians over the years, culminating in the major Battle of Adwa (1896) in which the Ethiopians defeated the Italians.

Following the decisive victory at the Battle of Adwa, Menelik was accepted by the European powers as a formidable political force and the victory also made the emperor an internationally recognized figure.

Major Battles

Menelik is best remembered for the valor he displayed in the Battle of Adwa, which was fought between the Ethiopian army and Italian forces in March 1896. The Ethiopians soundly defeated the Italians who tried to invade the Ethiopian territories and attempted to build their own empire in Africa. It was the first crushing defeat of a European power by African forces during the colonial era.

Personal Life & Legacy

Menelik II was married thrice. His first marriage was to Altash Tewodros in 1864. The short-lived marriage ended in 1865.

He married for the second time in 1865. His second wife was Befana Gatchew, whom he divorced in 1882.

In 1883 he married Taytu Betul, a noblewoman of Imperial blood.

Menelik had fathered several natural children, including the three he recognized: Shoaregga Menelik, Zauditu Menelik, and Asfa Wossen Menelik.

The emperor began suffering from a series of seizures starting from 1906. His health steadily worsened over the years and Taytu Betul ruled on his behalf during his illness.

He died on December 12, 1913 after years of deteriorating health. Ethiopia was ruled by regents for a few years before his oldest daughter Zewditu I succeeded him in 1916.

// Famous Emperor of Ethiopia

Menelik II biography timelines

  • // 17th Aug 1844
    Menelik II was born as Sahle Maryam on August 17, 1844, in Angolalla, Shewa. His father Haile Melekot was the Negus (King) of Shewa while his mother Woizero Ijigayehu, was a servant in the household of Haile Melekot's grandmother, Woizero Zenebework.
  • // 1855
    In 1855, Tewodros II, the Emperor of Ethiopia, invaded the kingdom of Shewa. Haile Melekot died in one of the early battles and Menelik was captured and taken to Tewodros II’s mountain stronghold of Magdala. The young prince was just 11 years old.
  • // 1864 To 1865
    Menelik II was married thrice. His first marriage was to Altash Tewodros in 1864. The short-lived marriage ended in 1865.
  • // 1865 To 1882
    He married for the second time in 1865. His second wife was Befana Gatchew, whom he divorced in 1882.
  • // Jul 1865
    After being in the captivity of Tewodros II for ten long years, Menelik was ultimately successful in escaping in July 1865. Aged 21 by now, he was a strong, well-built, and courageous youth who was determined to reclaim the throne of Shewa that rightfully belonged to him.
  • // 1868
    After reclaiming Shewa, he set his ambitions higher and laid claim to the imperial throne. However, he did not take any overt action for as long as Emperor Tewodros was alive. Tewodros died in 1868 and Menelik decided to take action regarding his claim to the emperor’s throne.
  • // 1871
    Menelik was not the only claimant to the throne. Yohannes IV, a very powerful Ethiopian prince also vied for the emperor’s crown and was successful in becoming the Emperor of Ethiopia in1871.
  • // 1883
    In 1883 he married Taytu Betul, a noblewoman of Imperial blood.
  • // 2nd May 1889
    Menelik had signed the Treaty of Wuchale with the Italians on May 2, 1889, ceding the northern province of Eritrea to Italy. However, there was a confusion regarding the interpretation of an article of the treaty—the Italian version declared Ethiopia in effect a protectorate of Italy while there was nothing in the Ethiopian version to support this claim.
  • // 3rd Nov 1889
    Emperor Yohannes was killed in the Battle of Gallabat in March 1889, providing an opportunity for Menelik to claim the throne he desperately sought. Menelik acted quickly and was crowned Negus Negast (king of kings), or Emperor, on November 3, 1889.
  • // 1893 To 1896
    In 1893, Menelik renounced the entire treaty and launched an attack on the Italians who had established themselves along the Red Sea coast. Several small battles were fought between the Italians and the Ethiopians over the years, culminating in the major Battle of Adwa (1896) in which the Ethiopians defeated the Italians.
  • // Mar 1896
    Menelik is best remembered for the valor he displayed in the Battle of Adwa, which was fought between the Ethiopian army and Italian forces in March 1896. The Ethiopians soundly defeated the Italians who tried to invade the Ethiopian territories and attempted to build their own empire in Africa. It was the first crushing defeat of a European power by African forces during the colonial era.
  • // 1906
    The emperor began suffering from a series of seizures starting from 1906. His health steadily worsened over the years and Taytu Betul ruled on his behalf during his illness.
  • // 12th Dec 1913 To 1916
    He died on December 12, 1913 after years of deteriorating health. Ethiopia was ruled by regents for a few years before his oldest daughter Zewditu I succeeded him in 1916.

// Famous Ethiopian Emperors

Menelik II's FAQ

  • What is Menelik II birthday?

    Menelik II was born at 1844-08-17

  • When was Menelik II died?

    Menelik II was died at 1913-12-12

  • Where was Menelik II died?

    Menelik II was died in Addis Ababa

  • Which age was Menelik II died?

    Menelik II was died at age 69

  • Where is Menelik II's birth place?

    Menelik II was born in Angolalla Tera

  • What is Menelik II nationalities?

    Menelik II's nationalities is Ethiopian

  • Who is Menelik II spouses?

    Menelik II's spouses is Altash Tewodros, Befana Gatchew, Taytu Betul

  • Who is Menelik II childrens?

    Menelik II's childrens is Zewditu

  • What is Menelik II's religion?

    Menelik II's religion is Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

  • Who is Menelik II's father?

    Menelik II's father is Haile Melekot

  • What is Menelik II's sun sign?

    Menelik II is Leo

  • How famous is Menelik II?

    Menelik II is famouse as Emperor of Ethiopia