Historical Personalities » Emperors & Kings » MENELIK II
|Full name||: Menelik II|
|Alias||: Menelik II|
|Address||: Angolalla Tera|
|Animals||: The Dragon|
|Father||: Haile Melekot|
|Wife||: Altash Tewodros, Befana Gatchew, Taytu Betul|
|Activists||: Emperors & Kings|
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
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.
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.