Windmill with wooden sails

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St Lawrence, Sant Llorenç, patron saint of the poor and Mallorcan millers.
graellat Windmill with many lateen sails. Introduced into the Island in the eighteenth century.
lateen windmill Palma 1908. Photographed by Ch. Chusseau-Flaviens.

Windmills – history III

An early windmill in Mallorca was the lateen windmill, named after the triangular shape of its cloth sails. A tailpole was operated from below the tower to bring it into the wind. This meant that the miller had to be constantly on the alert for changes in wind direction, hence the numerous small windows where he could keep an eye on it. A further disadvantage of this type of windmill was the work involved in furling and unfurling the sails which often had to be rolled on the arms to prevent destruction by gales.

Consequently in 1636, the millers formed a guild, with St Lawrence as their patron saint, to provide mutual assistance in those tasks requiring the combined labour of all. This is why ropes, pulleys, ladders and other tools were owned by the guild. A niche above the entrance to each mill held a statue of the saint.

The heavy millstones were raised by roping them to a beam in the top of the mill. As the sails turned, the rope wrapped around the beam and the millstone rose slowly. Without a propitious wind, the millstones would not have risen, so it was said that God raised the millstones.

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