Camila O’Gorman is one of the most famous romantic heroines of Argentina. Her ill-fated romance with Father Uladislao Gutiérrez was the scandal of the century. They defied the moral and social conventions of the time and caused a big uproar.

Camila O’Gorman by Leon Pallière

Camila O’Gorman (1828 – 1848) was born in Buenos Aires to a prominent family that was no stranger to scandal. Her paternal grandmother, Anne Perichon de Vandeuil de O’Gorman, was infamous for her love affair with Santiago de Liniers (the commander of the militia forces that expelled the British invaders in 1807 and subsequently became Viceroy).

Camila was a typical socialite who loved music and poetry and was friends with Manuelita de Rosas, daughter of the governor-cum-dictator of Buenos Aires. Like the rest of the women of that time, Camila went to church every day together with her chaperone, a black slave. The family priest confessor, Uladislao Gutiérrez, also visited the family home.

Camila and young Uladislao fell madly in love. They had to meet in secret but their rendezvous were made increasingly difficult by their circumstances. They decided to elope in December 1847. They rode north to Corrientes. When their elopement was discovered, a big manhunt was organised. However, the couple was able to take on new identities and elude their captors for six months. They even founded a new school in the town of Goya.

Meanwhile, in Buenos Aires, Juan Manuel de Rosas, who styled himself as the restorer of the rule of law and morality, saw this as an immoral challenge of his authority and ordered their incarceration. Ironically, it was an Irish priest who handed them over to the authorities.

The couple was brought to the prison town of Santos Lugares, a dismal and paltry place. By then, the public uproar demanded an exemplary punishment. Camila asked for pardon but it was denied because it could be construed as weakness on the part of the government. Juan Manuel de Rosas ordered their execution by firing squad in the hopes that it would teach people a lesson and bolster his power.

In the morning of August 18, 1848, Camila and Uladislao were taken to the yard and shot. Camila was twenty years old and eight months pregnant.

The execution of Camila O’Gorman by N. Thomas

In 1984, Maria Luisa Bemberg directed the historical romance Camila, based on this tragic love story (watch the trailer in Spanish here)

Read more:
Argentinean rural towns
Irish history in popular media
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About the author

Ana Astri-O’Reilly is from Argentina, where she lived until five years ago. She currently lives in Dallas, USA with her British husband, but they move a lot. Previously a translator and English and Spanish teacher, Ana first started writing to share her experiences and adventures with friends and family. She speaks Spanish, English and a smattering of Portuguese.