Els von Eystett
Els von Eystett was a 15th-century German prostitute at the center of a well-documented legal case. Accused of having caused an abortion while working at a brothel in Nördlingen, she was acquitted after a trial showed that the brothel manager's wife had forced her to drink an abortifacient.
Els was originally from Eichstätt. She was forced to enter a brothel to pay off her father's debts. She had worked in the brothels of Ulm and Augsburg when, in 1469, she arrived in Nördlingen and started to work at the municipal brothel (Frauenhaus) there. These city-owned and leaseholder-operated brothels existed in many cities of Germany and other parts of Europe at the time; they were tolerated by the church as necessary evils. In 1471 Els became pregnant. She had an abortion during the 20th week of pregnancy. After she told a customer, the story came to light, and a trial was conducted. Several of the prostitutes working at the brothel testified that the brothel's manager and his wife had been abusive, had cheated them out of their earnings, and had violated several of the city's brothel rules. They further claimed that the manager's wife had forced Els to drink an abortifacient, described as a mixture of Vinca, carrots, laurel and cloves. (Rules in effect at the time stipulated that in case of a pregnancy, the brothel had to support the mother until birth and then cancel all her debt and let her go.) The brothel manager was banned from the city; his wife was branded on the forehead, exhibited at the pranger and then driven out of town. Els was acquitted. The extensive files of the case are kept in the city archive of Nördlingen.
- Peter Schuster (1992). Das Frauenhaus: städtische Bordelle in Deutschland (1350-1600) (in German). F. Schöningh. p. 92.
- Käufliche Liebe im Mittelalter - Wie Wanderhuren wirklich lebten (in German). Sat.1. 2012.