Saverne (German Zabern), a town of France in the région of Alsace, situated on the Rhine-Marne canal at the foot of a pass over the Vosges Mountains, and 45 km (27 m.) N.W. of Strasbourg. It is a sous-préfecture of the Bas-Rhin département. Population (1999): 11,201.
Its principal building, the former episcopal residence, rebuilt by Cardinal de Rohan in 1779, was used by the Germans as barracks. There are also a 15th century church and an antiquarian museum.
In the vicinity are the ruined castles of Hoch-barr, Grossgeroldseck, Ochsenstein and Greifenstein. Hence a beautiful road, immortalized by Goethe in Dichtung und Wahrheit, leads across the Vosges to Pfalzburg.
Saverne (Tres Tabernae) was an important place in the time of the Roman Empire, and, after being destroyed by the Alamanni, was rebuilt by the emperor Julian.
During the Peasants' War the town was occupied, in 1525, by the insurgents, who were driven out in their turn by Duke Anton of Lorraine. It suffered much from the ravages of the Thirty Years' War, but the episcopal palace, then destroyed, was subsequently rebuilt, and in 1852 was converted by Louis Napoleon into a place of residence for widows of knights of the Legion of Honour.
Saverne was conquered by the German empire, and regained by the French after World War I.
In 1912 a German subaltern killed a cobbler in Saverne for smiling at him, hence leading to the term Zabernism (from the German name of the town), meaning abuse of military authority, or unwarranted aggression.