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Menelik II

Menelik II (mĕnˈəlĭk) [key], 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 Adwa. 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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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