Emperor Taizu of Song, also known as Zhao Kuangyin, was a real person. He founded the Song Dynasty and reunited much of China, which had been divided during the Five Dynasties period. His path towards becoming Emperor started out with a brilliant military career during the Later Zhou Dynasty. While the Later Zhou Dynasty never reunited China, there were plans to do so. After the last great Emperor of the Later Zhou Dynasty, Zhou Shizong died (he was replaced by his 7 year old son), Zhao Kuangyin was made Emperor through a mostly bloodless coupe in which the military made him Emperor.
Emperor Taizu then set out to unite much of China, and while he had some setbacks to North, he was able to unite much of the southern part of China. He also had other successes, including promotion of education with relative freedom of speech and inquiry by the standards of the day, promotion of art, engaged in economic reform and created a civil service exam which allowed civil servants to be appointed based on qualifications more than they had in the past. He also allowed science to thrive. There are also rumors that he was welcoming of foreigners loyal to China.