Shamkhal Sultan, alongside his sister Sultan-Agha Khanum, were from a prominent Circassian family from within the Safavid Empire. Sultan-Agha Khanum was married to king Tahmasp I, having one daughter known as Pari Khan Khanum, and a son known as Suleiman Mirza.
Shamkhal Sultan appears prominently on the political scene during the same time as his niece, Pari Khan Khanum, who was born by his sister Sultan-Agha Khanum and king Tahmasp I. He participated actively in Pari Khan Khanum's political designs and acted for a time as her spokesman, and during their presence, the Safavid political sphere was dominated by ethnic Circassians, amongst the other factions that joined Shamkhal Sultan and his cousin.
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