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Menelik II(mĕn`əlĭk), 1844–1913, emperor of Ethiopia after 1889. He was originally ras (ruler) of Shoa (central Ethiopia). After the death (1868) of Emperor Tewodros II, Menelik, with Italian support, gained strength steadily. He seized the throne after Emperor Johannes IV died. In 1889, Menelik concluded the Treaty of Uccialli with Italy. When he learned, however, that the Italian version of the treaty made Ethiopia a protectorate of Italy, he denounced the agreement. The Italian invasion that followed (1895–96) was crushed by Menelik's great victory near AdwaAdwa
, Ital. Adua, town (1994 pop. 24,519), Tigray region, N Ethiopia. Lying on the highway between Aksum and Adigrat, Adwa is an agricultural trade center. Adwa was the most important commercial center of Tigray in the 19th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. . Italy was forced to renounce all claim to Ethiopia and to pay an indemnity. Menelik took important steps to strengthen and modernize his domain. He made Addis Ababa his capital, constructed a railroad, attempted to end the slave trade, and curbed the feudal nobility. His conquests doubled the size of the country and brought the present S Ethiopia (largely Muslim in population) into the realm. Gradually his health failed, and the end of his reign was marked by intrigue and maneuvering for the succession. He was succeeded as emperor by Lij Yasu.
Born Aug. 17, 1844, in Ankober, in the province of Shoa; died Dec. 22, 1913, in Addis Ababa. Emperor of Ethiopia from 1889.
Menelik completed the centralization of the state begun by Theodore II and John IV. Crushing feudal separatism in Gojam, Amhara, and Tigre, he created a unified Ethiopian state and skillfully exploited the intense rivalry between Britain, Italy, and France to preserve Ethiopia’s independence. His government sponsored the construction of roads and the development of trade. In his reign a regular army was created, a national currency introduced, a hospital built, and the first state supported school founded. Menelik also sought to strengthen large-scale private landownership. Illness forced him to withdraw from state affairs in 1909.