The Plagiarism by Nicolleto Giganti.

A few years ago I translated the first book of Mr. Nicolleto Giganti into Castilian. The book I used for the translation was printed in 1644 by Zetter in Frankfurt with the text translated into German and French.

I must confess that this fencing felt quite lively and fresh, although I noted the lack of nomenclature of the guards, already seated among the masters of his time. Apart from that the book doubtless contained some innovations, passes, contra-passes both inside and outside (as the long points for example) in its 42 beautiful prints. In short, the treaty left me impressed.

I know Mr. Salvatore Fabris very well. I’ve worked two years translating his two books into Castilian. Personally, I consider him the greatest master of the rapier. His art, science, system… And its only objective throughout the pages of his books is to teach and do it methodically and thoroughly. The books used for these translations were the originals printed in Copenhagen in 1606 by Henrico Waltkirch.
So my impression of the work of Mr. Nicolleto was very friendly and although I considered the allegations made by Mr. Salvatore to be caused by potential jealousy and envy among masters. As for my opinion about Mr. Salvatore and his work I retain my deepest admiration.

This year I began to carefully study the second book of Mr. Nicolleto, the Zetter version, printed in Francort in 1644, the treatise for which he  was accused of plagiarism by master Salvatore Fabris.  One after the other I found clearly copied teachings, and clearly not coincidences, but direct proof that the book is an act of plagiarism made without any shame.

This is easy to say, now I’ll prove it. Because the plagiarism is very clear I will use his prints first and then discuss some randomly selected texts to support my statements. The book of Mr. Giganti is, from the first until the last plates, nothing but plagiarism, and there is no possibility of mistake, let’s have a look:

This is the first illustration of Mr. Nicolletto Giganti treatise.

This is the first illustration of Mr. Nicolletto Giganti treatise.

 And this is the first illustration of Mr. Salvatore Fabris treatise.

These are obviously very similar, but this could still be a coincidence. But go ahead and choose any random figure in the book, for example the figure of ilustration nº 40 for the fifth advantage of Mr. Nicolleto Giganti. Here it is:

Now watch at how curiously the figure of illustration nº 148 of the second book of Mr. Salvatore Fabris corresponding with his fifth rule is identical.

To avoid boring the reader I will give another example: The last illustration of the second book of Mr. Nicolleto Giganti, figure nº. 70 of the fourth advantage, to injure with sword and dagger.

And here is the last illustration of the fourth rule to injure in movement with sword and dagger of Mr. Salvatore Fabris books, the figure is the nº 178.

Evidently illustrations are plagiarized, but we will also address the content of the book to see if it too has been plagiarized.

-The second book by Mr. Salvatore Fabris talks about the assault on the move and go to the enemy without stopping.

-The book plagiarized by Mr. Nicolleto Giganti talks about going to the enemy without stopping.

– Mr. Salvatore Fabris in his second book, explain 6 rules for sword alone to go to assault the enemy without stopping and 4 rules for the sword and dagger.

-Mr.Nicolleto Giganti explain 6 advantages to go to the enemy without stopping to sword alone and 4 advantages for the sword and dagger.

And yet another example, Figure nº121, Mr.  Salvatore Fabris text reads

You will now see a second wound to the body and passing beneath and outside ….

Figure nº13 of the book plagiarized

“Strike at the last second with which it passes on the outside and below …”

This continues throughout the book.

Plagiarism is also evident here, and there is no doubt about it. In addition to this, as  translator of the both masters I find significant variations between the first and the second book of Mr. Nicolleto Giganti, the first only explain the high and low guards, inside and outside; and in this second book the explanations use an elaborate terminology and show the whole arsenal of guards. The book however keeps the mild language of the first book, which makes me think that Giganti doctored the texts to not match the original 100%.

For me, this solves the question and the vileness of it denigrates Mr. Nicolleto Giganti, which I find rightly accused of plagiarism by Mr. Salvatore Fabris fencing master and supreme Knight of the Order of the Seven Hearts.

Bilbao, December 2012.




-La esgrima o la ciencia de las armas, libros I y II. Salvatore Fabris 1606

-Escuela o teatro, libros I, 1606 y II, 1608 . Nicolleto Giganti.

-Bibliografia Generale della Scherma del Cav. Jacopo Gelli. Firenze. Tipografia Editrice di L. Niccolai. 1890.

-Trattato di scherma: sopra un nuovo sistema di giuoco misto di scuola italiana e francese. Di Alberto Marchionni. Pubblicato da Dai Tipi Federigo Bencini, Firenze 1847.

Eugenio Garcia-Salmones
Eugenio Garcia-Salmonesis the founder and head of School of Historical fencing "Don Diego Lopez de Haro", and also the senior instructor specialized on the italian rapier, rapier and dagger and side sword.

Since 2007 Eugenio is also a member of HEMAC and he has teached at major Spanish and European HEMAC-associated events.
Also is one of the founders of the FEEH (Spanish Federation of Historical Fencing) and have participed actively in the constitution of IFHEMA, being the representative per Spain.

Eugenio has translated the following masters into Castilian:

* Sigmund Ringeck
* Wallerstein
* Talhoffer
* Peter Von Danzig
* Camilo Agrippa " Tratatto di scientia d'Arme", 1553
* Henri de Sainct Didier “Treatise containing the secrets of the first book on the sword alone”,1573
* Nicoletto Giganti “The School”, or “Salle”, 1606
* Ridolfo Capo Ferro’s ‘Gran Simulacro’, 1610
* Salvatore Fabris’ rapier fencing treatises of 1606

Now he is working on traslation of Achille Marozzo treatise and actively collaborates with the Wiktenauer.


  1. Hi Eugenio!

    I’d seen your Spanish article on this subject, and I agree that book 1 is Giganti’s treatise and book two is the first 2/3 of Fabris’s book 2.

    However I have different theory, and lay the blame at the feet of de Zetter. De Zetter had already published a bilingual French/German translation of Giganti in 1619, again in Frankfurt.

    Book 2 has its own title, and doesn’t mention Giganti’s name anywhere, but it is bound in the same book, being a French and German bilingual translation.

    My theory is that de Zetter bound two translations of his together, and either intentionally or without caring published it as one book. I personally doubt Giganti got a penny for it, and possibly not even for the original 1619 translation again by de Zetter.

    Furthermore Giganti’s dediction to the 1606 work (which unfortunately is not included in the online William Wilson scan) he says he has been practising his profession for 27 years, so he would have been into his 80s by 1644, not impossible but looking more unlikely.

    Moreover, according to Marchionni, Giganti published his own second book, which is described as being quite distinct from the Fabris “plagarism” of the 1644. If we take Marchionni at his word, it seems strange if Giganti had not published his own two books together, if he was involved in the 1644 edition.

    Happy to discuss over a glass of wine next time we meet!

  2. So it is a copy of another’s work published some 40 years later. So? You find this copying happening without attribution happening regularly in old works. The concept of copyright simply didn’t exist at the time. And in a time before modern publications and the internet it is a benefit to us that it didn’t since other wise we would possibly have lost more of these works to the ravages of time.

    • Actually, there was copyright as early as in the Renaissance, although it was quite different to modern copyright. Meyer’s 1570 book, for instance, could not be printed again for 10 years after the first print, which is clearly stated in the frontispice of the book.

      Here is a whole study on the topic: Copyright in the Renaissance: Prints and the Privilegio in Sixteenth-Century Venice and Rome.

      How we regard plagiarism vs inspiration in history varies of course, but it is certainly interesting to know what the authors were influenced by in their teaching and writing. Basically all authors used techniques taken from others, like Meyer borrowing from a whole group of German, Italian, French, Spanish and Austrian masters.

      Likewise, many fechtbucher contain complete copies of other work collected into volumes that collate several treatises, sometimes separated by centuries. This is part of preserving and spreading of the Art, spread as single volumes to a small clique of society and not plagiarism in the sense we use the word.

      A few, however do not just borrow or copy, but take a whole treatise, masking it slightly, to hide the fact that it is just a copy of an earlier work. This I think is different and worthy of noting.

  3. Sorry for the delay;
    PIM, may by what your suposition will be rigth, but can not be sure, of course I’ll be happy to discuss the next time wath we meet with your conditions with red or withe wine.
    Ted, of course the copyrights are an issue of our time, but if the master Fabris which was the best of his time knew was a Venetian master stealing his prestige and work, Im sure had been angry enough. Although the event occurred after the master’s death and was reported by a German, it remains a plagiarism, this is not an integration of work of several master in a single treaty, is a full copy of treatise signed with the name of another master.

  4. Giganti’s 1606 work has a prohibition on it being copied for 15 years, IIRC (I don’t have a copy to hand, and it’s not part of the online scan) under the aegis of the Grandy Duchy of Tuscany.

    I doubt this was enforceable in Frankfurt during the the 30 years war however, and de Zetter’s 1619 bilingual translation includes the original publisher’s dedication to the reader, but not Giganti’s own dedication to Cosimo II de’ Medici (who was still Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1619).

    To me this is evidence that Giganti had no involvement in this translation, or in any later editions by de Zetter, although the acusation of plagarism dates back to Hynitzsch’s preface to the 1677 German edition of Fabris.

  5. Looking forward to that glass of wine Eugenio!

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