People of the highest social level
Among the gentry of the province Nicholas was respected but not liked.
The Polish nobles, gentry and Church - the educated classes generally - were crushed.
In England indeed a variety of causes hindered nobility or gentry from ever obtaining the importance which they obtained, for instance, in France.
"It seems that even in the next world only the gentry are to have a chance!" remarked one.
In strictness nobility and gentry are the same thing.