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"If powers at a distance come forward to partition Africa between them, I do not intend to be an indifferent spectator."
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Menelik II (17 August 1844 – 12 December 1913), baptized as Sahle Maryam, was emperor of Ethiopia from 1889 until his death. Renowned for his expansion and modernization of Ethiopia, his victory in the First Italo-Ethiopian War secured Ethiopia's independence from European imperialism. He leads the Ethiopians in Civilization VI.

Menelik founds cities on the hills, focusing on Faith Faith and letting his Council of Ministers boost his Science Science and Culture Culture with an eye towards a Religious or Culture Victory.


Menelik II, great King and Emperor, you have a vision for your people. You will build both friendships and factories, alliances and railways, and use your wits and your wisdom to bring Ethiopia into a bright and free future.


Menelik II's unique agenda is Ethiopian Highlands. He prefers settling cities on Hills, likes those who leave Hill-heavy areas to him, and dislikes those who also settle around Hills.

His leader ability is Council of Ministers, which provides cities founded on Hills with Science Science and Culture Culture equal to 15% of their Faith Faith output, and grants all units additional Strength Combat Strength when fighting on Hills.

Detailed Approach[]

Menelik's focus is on a defensive, religious and culture-based game. Ethiopia's advantages come into play by settling the hills: the Council of Ministers gives Ethiopia a bonus to Science Science and Culture Culture equal to 15% of Faith Faith production in hill-based cities, and Menelik can build Rock-Hewn Churches on hills, further boosting his Faith Faith. To protect his highland monasteries, Menelik has the Oromo Cavalry, a mid-game unit that moves without penalties in the hills. Here Menelik can make sure that Ethiopian cities remain free – and remain powerhouses of Faith Faith. Later in the game, Menelik can use this Faith Faith to purchase Archaeologists, making his best strategy a Religious or Culture Victory.


Menelik II is voiced by Debebe Eshetu. He speaks Amharic.


Codename Quote (English translation) Quote (Amharic) Notes
Agenda-based Approval I am pleased you find comfort in flat land, for the hills are mine. ሜዳማውን ምድር በመውደድህ ደስ ብሎኛል፣ ተራሮቹ የኔ ናቸውና::

Mēdamawini midiri bemewidedihi desi bilonyali, terarochu yenē nachewina.

Agenda-based Disapproval The high hills are mine by right and custom. You are better off settling elsewhere. (lit. "The high mountains are mine by right and by tradition. It is better for you to settle somewhere else.") ከፍ ያሉ ተራሮች በመብትም በባህልም የኔ ናቸው:: ሌላ ቦታ ብትሰፍር ይሻልሃል::

Kefi yalu terarochi bemebitimi bebahilimi yenē nachewi. Lēla bota bitisefiri yishalihali.

Attacked Do you not know that the Lion of Judah has always conquered? Well, you will learn soon enough. (lit. "Your work is an insult to Ethiopians, and you will pay a heavy price for it.") ስራህ ለኢትዮጵያውያን ስድብ ነው፣ እናም ከባድ ዋጋ ትከፍልበታለህ::

Sirahi le’ītiyop’iyawiyani sidibi newi, inami kebadi waga tikefilibetalehi.

The audio file for this line appears to have been switched with his Declares War line.
Declares War Your actions insult the people of Ethiopia, and for that you must pay a heavy price. (lit. "Don't you know that the Lion of Judah is always victorious? Well, you'll see it soon enough.") የይሁዳ አንበሳ ምንግዜም አሸናፊ መሆኑን አታውቅም? ደህና በቅርቡ እስኪበቃ ታየዋለህ::

Yeyihuda ānibesa minigizēmi āshenafī mehonuni ātawik’imi? Dehina bek’iribu isikībek’a tayewalehi.

The audio file for this line appears to have been switched with his Attacked line.
Defeated Do you think God abandoned Ethiopia? Do you think his favor rests on you? Do not gloat in your victory today. እግዚአብሔር ኢትዮጵያን የሚተዋት ይመስልሀል? እውን ላንተ የሚያደላ ይመስልሀል? በዛሬው ድልህ አትፈንድቅ::

Igizī’ābiḥēri ītiyop’iyani yemītewati yimesilihāli? Iwini lanite yemīyadela yimesilihāli? Bezarēwi dilihi ātifenidik’i.

Greeting I am Menelik, Lion of Judah, of the house and lineage of Solomon, emperor of Ethiopia. Greetings. (lit. "I am Menelik, King of Solomon, King of Ethiopia, the Lion of Judah. Welcome.") እኔ የይሁዳ አንበሳ ቤቴና ሀረገ ትውልዴ ሰለሞናዊ የኢትዮጵያ ንጉሰ ነገስት ምኒልክ ነኝ:: ሰላም::

Inē yeyihuda ānibesa bētēna hārege tiwilidē selemonawī ye’ītiyop’iya niguse negesiti minīliki nenyi. Selami.

Quote from Civilopedia If powers at a distance come forward to partition Africa between them, I do not intend to be an indifferent spectator. (lit. "If distant powers come forward to destroy Africa, I will not ignore it.") የሩቅ ሃይላት አፍሪካን ለመቀራመት ወደፊት ከገቡ እኔ በቸልታ አልመለከትም::

Yeruk’i hayilati āfirīkani lemek’erameti wedefīti kegebu inē bechelita ālimeleketimi.

This is a quote from a circular letter addressed by King Menelik to the Heads of State of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia, April 10, 1891.[1][2]


Delegation: Ethiopia sends you coffee, injera bread, and our warm wishes.

Accepts Delegation from Player: Talk to your delegation upon their return, and they will tell you of the beauty of the Roof of Africa.

Rejects Delegation from Player: We don't need any.

Accepts Player's Declaration of Friendship: Together, our people will grow strong under the light of God.

Rejects Player's Declaration of Friendship: Forgive me. Ethiopia has not been free for so long by making hasty agreements with foreigners.

Requests Declaration of Friendship: I offer you the friendship of the line of Solomon, and the Lion of Judah!

Player Accepts Declaration of Friendship: You are on the right side of history.

Accepts Trade Deal: A fair exchange will benefit us both.

Denounced by Player: Your rule is a disgrace, your words are lies, and I will show the world your treacherous heart.

Denounces Player: Are all your words impious? Are all your deeds deceitful? I see nothing redeeming in your rule.

Too Many Troops Near His Border: Do you think you can frighten me? Move your troops at once!

Invitation to Capital: In the spirit of friendship, I will tell you of my home, if you will repay the favor.

Invitation to City: We have spread a wide table with injera and laid upon it tibs and kitfo. Will you share a meal with us?

Civilopedia entry[]

It takes a good man to learn from his friends and a greater man to learn from his enemies. Menelik II, then Sahle Miriam, was born on August 17, 1844, in Shewa, Ethiopia. Menelik was still just a child when Emperor Tewodros II invaded the Shewan region and killed his father, Prince Haile-Melekot. Rather than ending Haile-Melekot’s line and killing a potential threat to his rule, the Emperor Tewodros decided to take the young boy into his court in Magdala. Miriam was by no means free — he was a political hostage. However, Tewodros didn’t relegate Miriam to some distant tower. Tewodros raised Miriam alongside his children and treated him well. Miriam learned what he could during this time from Tewodros, ultimately coming to understand and even share Tewodros’s hope for a unified Ethiopia. However, Miriam still wanted to be free, and in 1865, he fled the court with the help of other Shewan hostages.

The current governor of Shewa fled when Miriam arrived home, and the returning prince assumed the throne with little resistance, becoming King of the Shewa. He wasn’t willing to settle for just Shewa, though. Miriam watched Tewodros, and waited. Even when Emperor Tewodros died in 1868, Miriam remained patient. Miriam knew he would need support if he wanted to become the next Emperor. He also needed allies if he wanted to see his dream of a modernized and unified Ethiopia come to fruition. With that in mind, Miriam made connections between Shewa and nearby kingdoms. When the Emperor Yohannes, caught between expansionist Europeans in Egypt to the north, and a religious fundamentalist movement in Sudan, to the West, fell in battle, Miriam knew it was time.

Miriam took the title of Emperor and assumed the name of Emperor Menelik II on November 3, 1889. He drew inspiration for his new name from Menelik I, the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Under this name, he planned to make his reign a long one filled with prosperity for the people of Ethiopia.

One of Menelik’s first challenges as Emperor was the encroachment of the Italians, who had been, in a bit of double-dealing on the English part, “given” the Red Sea coast (the English wanted a buffer between their newly-acquired Egypt and French Somalia). Menelik negotiated with the Italians, signing the Treaty of Wichale. The treaty was intended only to give the newly established colony of Eritrea to Italy; however, it was misinterpreted to allow the Italians the right to claim Ethiopia. Menelik tried to resolve the issue peacefully, but he was ultimately forced to reject the treaty and defend Ethiopia’s land. Several skirmishes and one major battle at Adwa later, Menelik and Ethiopia stood victorious. With this victory, he negotiated the Treaty of Addis Ababa, which further established that Ethiopia was independent.

The Battle of Adwa was a turning point in world history. Before, European countries had thought of themselves as superior to nearly everywhere else in the world. But now, an African nation had successfully defended itself against a European one. With this success, colonized people in Africa, Asia, and the Americas took notice. Colonialism was not long for the world.

Following the treaty, Menelik moved to start modernizing Ethiopia and establishing it as a powerful nation with its own identity. He built the capital of Addis Ababa, from appropriated Oromo land, and created a national currency. Menelik further worked to develop a national infrastructure by building schools and making travel more accessible and comfortable through the creation of railways. He also made sure that people could remain in contact through a postal and telegraph system. Menelik wanted his country to prosper and grow both metaphorically and literally. He expanded his borders to almost the same size as the current ones thanks to his previous coalitions.

There were still voices, however, that Menelik knew weren’t being heard, and he was determined to make sure their words were spoken. He actively worked to suppress and ultimately destroy the slave trade within Ethiopia. Although previous rulers outlawed the “industry”, Menelik punished slavers with amputation and broke apart slave trading towns. Although he couldn’t change the minds of everyone within his nation, he made sure that the seeds were sown for future generations. Such forward thought, though did not extend to ethnic minorities within Ethiopia - Menelik's rule has been criticized by ethnic groups who feel like Menelik's Amharic people have kept a tight grip on the reins of power in the country.

Menelik married three times both before and during his rule. He left behind his first wife after escaping Emperor Tewodros. It’s uncertain whether either of them was heartbroken over the matter since both married other people soon after. The same year that Menelik “divorced” his first wife, he married Woizero Befana Wolde Michael. Menelik loved her dearly, but he was forced to divorce her after multiple allegations of treason. Despite these allegations, Menelik still professed his love to her until his third and final marriage to Taytu Betul. He remained with her until his death. Taytu proved to be a powerful monarch and was an influential woman even before their marriage.

In 1909, Menelik suffered a stroke that left him a shell of his former self. The Empress stepped up to reign in his stead until Ras Bitwaddad Tesemma took over. His rule was short lived, however, and a council was formed to rule until Menelik’s death in 1913. The Empress was, to her chagrin, not invited to voice her opinions within the council. Menelik’s burial was quiet and sudden. There were no announcements, no ceremonies—just the silent passing of one of the most favorably remembered rulers of Ethiopia. His legacy left behind a stable country with an identity that remained even through modernization, though in recent years other ethnic groups in Ethiopia have called history to account for Menelik's Amharic chauvanism.


  • Menelik's diplomacy screen shows the Fasilides Castle, a castle within the Fasil Ghebbi palace complex during the afternoon.
  • Menelik's leader ability references his creation of Ethiopia's first cabinet of ministers towards the end of his reign, while his leader agenda is named after the rugged, mountainous area that dominates central and northern Ethiopia.
  • Menelik recycles some animations from Cyrus.
  • Menelik's preferred religion is portrayed as Eastern Orthodoxy. In fact, the historical main Christian denomination in Ethiopia is the Miaphysite or Oriental Orthodox Church, which is not represented in the game.
  • Menelik had a direct relationship with one other leader in Civilization VI: he exchanged phonograph messages with Victoria.



Related achievements[]

Battle of Adwa
Battle of Adwa
Defeat an Infantry unit whose capital is on another continent with an Oromo Cavalry.
The Battle of Adwa in 1896 was a decisive Ethiopian victory over Italy that allowed Ethiopia to maintain its independence for another 40 years, unlike the rest of Africa.
The Lion of Judah
The Lion of Judah
Win a regular game as Menelik II.
One of the titles of the Solomonic monarchs of Ethiopia, including Menelik II.


See also[]

External links[]

Civilization VI Leaders [edit]
Abraham Lincoln1Alexander1Amanitore1Ambiorix1Bà Triệu1Basil II1Catherine de Medici (Magnificence Catherine1) • Chandragupta R&F-OnlyCleopatra (Ptolemaic Cleopatra1) • Cyrus1Dido GS-OnlyEleanor of Aquitaine GS-OnlyElizabeth I1Frederick BarbarossaGandhiGenghis Khan R&F-OnlyGilgameshGitarja1GorgoHammurabi1Harald Hardrada (Varangian Harald Hardrada1) • Hojo TokimuneJadwiga1Jayavarman VII1João III1John Curtin1Julius Caesar1Kristina GS-OnlyKublai Khan1Kupe GS-OnlyLady Six Sky1Lautaro R&F-OnlyLudwig II1Mansa Musa GS-OnlyMatthias Corvinus GS-OnlyMenelik II1MontezumaMvemba a NzingaNader Shah1Nzinga Mbande1Pachacuti GS-OnlyPedro IIPericlesPeterPhilip IIPoundmaker R&F-OnlyQin Shi Huang (Unifier Qin Shi Huang1) • Ramses II1Robert the Bruce R&F-OnlySaladin (Sultan Saladin1) • Sejong1Seondeok R&F-OnlyShaka R&F-OnlySimón Bolívar1Suleiman GS-Only (Muhteşem Suleiman1) • Sundiata Keita1Tamar R&F-OnlyTeddy Roosevelt (Bull Moose Teddy1Rough Rider Teddy1) • Theodora1Tokugawa1TomyrisTrajanVictoria (Age of Steam Victoria1) • Wilfrid Laurier GS-OnlyWilhelmina R&F-OnlyWu Zetian1Yongle1
1 Requires DLC

R&F-Only Added in the Rise and Fall expansion pack.
GS-Only Added in the Gathering Storm expansion pack.