The empress Wu was born into a wealthy family in 624 ad. They were not royalty but they weren't poor.
At age 14 she became a concubine to the emperor. (This was an honor at the time) The emperor's son Guo Tsung was taken with her. When he became emperor she was made the number one concubine.
Wu wanted to be an empress so she killed her daughter and blamed it on the empress at the time. Guo threw the empress out and Wu was made empress.
When Guo died Wu became regent to the new emperor who was her son. She soon learned that her son planned to strip her of her title and give it to his wife. She then stripped him of his title and demoted him to a prince.
She lowered taxes for peasants, reformed China’s education system she also fought government corruption She ruled China for 50 year peacefully dying at age 80 and passing the throne to her son