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Bernardo and Francisco are guarding the palace of Ellsinore, the residence of the King of Denmark. As Horatio explains later in Act I, the King Hamlet of Denmark has recently died and the nephew of the king of Norway whom King Hamlet defeated years earlier is planning an attack on Ellsinore. The nephew's name is Fortinbras and he thinks that Denmark will be weak because the old king is dead and his brother Claudius has taken his place. Since the country is still in mourning for the old king and a transition is power is taking place, Fortinbras believes he can strike at Ellsinore and regain territory his father lost to the old king.
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