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Horatio has already revealed in the first scene of the play that young Fortinbras of Norway is demanding lands from Denmark that his father had lost to the now-deceased king Hamlet in a battle. Claudius says that he obviously has assumed that with the senior Hamlet's death, that Denmark would be in disarray, and would give in to his demands, or, if not, they would not be all that difficult to invade and defeat. He sends Cornelius and Voltimand to carry a message to the King of Norway, asking him to restrain his nephew Fortinbras from a rash invasion of Denmark, which has apparently been planned without his knowledge.
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