SUMMARY: A small manuscript, Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 304 (13th cent., ante
1259), written and illustrated by Matthew Paris, transmits a collection of six fortune-telling
texts, known as sortes. The genre of the sortes and its development in time is discussed in the
first part of the article; the second part focuses on the tipology and linguistical features of each
of these tracts. The presence of untranslated or misunderstood Arabic, Hebrew and Romance
terms is especially remarkable and suggests a circulation of these texts in the Mediterranean
area during the Middle Ages. These sortes, officially prohibited, slowly became luxury items,
eventually probably used also as passtimes.