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Biography::Menelik II

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Biography Abeto Menelik (Sahle Maryam) was born in Angolalla, near Debre Birhan, Shewa. He was the son of Negus Haile Melekot of Shewa and WoizeroUnknown extension tag "ref" Ijigayehu. Woizero Ijigayehu was a lady in the household of Haile Melekot's grandmother, the formidable Woizero Zenebework, widow of Merid Azmatch Wossen Seged, and mother of King Sahle Selassie of Showa. Most sources indicate that while no marriage took place between Haile Melekot and Woizero Ijigayehu, Sahle Selassie ordered his grandson legitimized.

Prior to his death in 1855, Negus Haile Melekot named Menelik as successor to the throne of Shewa. Shortly after Haile Melekot died, Menelik was taken prisoner by Nəgusä Nägäst Tewodros II. Following Nəgusä Nägäst Tewodros II's conquest of Shewa, he had young Sahle Maryam transferred to his mountain stronghold of Magdala. Still, Tewodros treated the young prince well. He even offered him the hand of his daughter Altash Tewodros in marriage, which Menelik accepted.

Upon Menelik's imprisonment, his uncle, Haile Mikael, was appointed as ShumUnknown extension tag "ref" of Shewa by Nəgusä Nägäst Tewodros II with the title of MeridazmachUnknown extension tag "ref". However, Meridazmach Haile Mikael rebelled against Tewodros, resulting in his being replaced by the non-royal AtoUnknown extension tag "ref" Bezabeh as Shum. However, Ato Bezabeh in turn then rebelled against the Emperor and proclaimed himself Negus of Shewa. Although the Shewan royals imprisoned at Magdala had been largely complacent as long as a member of their family ruled over Shewa, this usurpation by a commoner was not palatable to them. They plotted the escape of Menelik from Magdala; with the help of Mohammed Ali and Queen Worqitu of Wollo, he escaped from Magdala the night of 1 July 1865, abandoning his wife, and returned to Shewa. Enraged, Emperor Tewodros slaughtered 29 Oromo hostages then had 12 Amhara notables beaten to death with bamboo rods.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref>

King of Shewa

Bezabeh's attempt to raise an army against Menelik failed miserably; thousands of Shewans rallied to the flag of the son of Negus Haile Melekot and even Bezabeh's own soldiers deserted him for the returning prince. Abeto Menelik entered Ankober and proclaimed himself Negus. While Negus Menelik reclaimed his ancestral Shewan crown, he also laid claim to the Imperial throne, as a direct descendant male line of Nəgusä Nägäst Lebna Dengel. However, he made no overt attempt to assert this claim during this time; Marcus interprets his lack of decisive action not only to Menelik's lack of confidence and experience, but that "he was emotionally incapable of helping to destroy the man who had treated him as a son."<ref>Marcus, Menelik II, p. 30.</ref> Not wishing to take part in the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia, he allowed his rival Kassai to benefit with gifts of modern weapons and supplies from the British. Afterwards other challenges—a revolt amongst the Wollo to the north, the intrigues of his next wife Baffana to replace him with her choice of ruler, military failures against the Arsi Oromo to the south east—kept Menelik from directly confronting Kassai until after his rival had brought an Abuna from Egypt who crowned him Nəgusä Nägäst Yohannes IV.

Submission to Yohannes

Eventually, Menelik acquiesced to the superior position of Yohannes and, on 20 March 1878, Menelik "approached Yohannes on foot. He was carrying a rock on his neck and his face was down in the traditional form of submission.<ref>Marcus, Menelik II, p. 55</ref> However, very aware of how precarious his own position was, Yohannes recognized Menelik as Negus of Shewa and gave him numerous presents which included four cannons, several hundred modern Remington rifles, and ammunition for both.<ref>Marcus, Menelik II, p. 56</ref>


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