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Voltimand and Cornelius are ambassadors, sent by Claudius to speak with the king of Norway to discuss the possibility of war with Fortinbras, the nephew of the king, who is rumored to be planning an invasion of Denmark. Voltimand reports that the king has chastised Fortinbras for his actions, which were undertaken under the pretext that Norway was about to invade Poland. It emerges that the king decides to give Fortinbras a commission to invade Poland as originally planned, and that he asks the Danes to guarantee him safe passage in order to do so.
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