Trevisan was born into a non-military family in Padua, then in the territory of the Republic of Venice, the son of Biagio Trevisano, a doctor in the arts and medicine. Like other war cardinals, such as Niccolò Fortiguerra and Giuliano della Rovere, Trevisan came from a humble background. His mother's maiden name was Mezzarota. His first name is sometimes also rendered Ludovico, Luigi, Luise, and Alvise; his last name as Trevisano or Scarampi-Mezzarota.
Trevisan studied grammar and poetry, followed by the liberal arts, in Venice; he obtained a doctorate in arts and medicine at the University of Padua on July 9, 1425. After a brief stint teaching medicine, Trevisan went to Rome circa 1430 to become the physician of Cardinal Gabrile Condulmer (future Pope Eugene IV). Upon Condulmer's election as pope, Trevisan was made his cubicularius and scriptori of apostolic letters. He soon also became a canon of the cathedral chapter of Padua and began his ecclesiastical career.
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