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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Hamlet is based on a Norse legend composed by Saxo Grammaticus in Latin around 1200 AD." 

"In Saxo's version, King Rorik of the Danes places his trust in two brothers, Orvendil and Fengi. The brothers are appointed to rule over Jutland, and Orvendil weds the king's beautiful daughter, Geruth. They have a son, Amleth."

"But Fengi, lusting after Orvendil's new bride and longing to become the sole ruler of Jutland, kills his brother, marries Geruth, and declares himself king over the land. Amleth is desperately afraid, and feigns madness to keep from getting murdered."

"He plans revenge against his uncle and becomes the new and rightful king of Jutland."

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although the play Hamlet is set in the real country of Denmark, there was never a real king named Hamlet, nor was there ever a real king named Claudius. Visit the web sites linked below for lists of Danish rulers.

The only way we can put together a family tree for Shakespeare's Hamlet is to use the information in the play. Here's what we know:

  • Unnamed King m. Unnamed Queen and had two sons:
  • 1st son Hamlet m. Gertrude and had son named Hamlet
  • 2nd son Claudius m. Gertrude, brother Hamlet's widow

That's it.